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How to Punish 15-Year-Old Mother Who Murdered Her Baby at Birth?

On January 17 three years ago, a 15-year-old Santa Maria-area girl gave birth to who is only known in court records as “Baby Boy A” and then immediately committed a horrific act, which resulted in a recent California Court of Appeal decision about appropriate punishment.

This mother, “M.S.,” used a straight-edged knife to slash the newborn’s neck at least two or three times, severing his carotid artery and trachea.

She then stuffed the corpse in a plastic trash bag and hid it.

Hearing complaints of stomach pains, her unaware parents drove her to a medical center, where a nurse found a protruding umbilical cord. 

She initially explained she had no idea she’d been pregnant and was stunned when a dead baby popped into the toilet during a morning bathroom trip.

Questioned, “M.S. replied that she may or may not have seen the body and may have flushed it in the toilet,” according to court records.

In another one of four story versions, M.S. claimed she’d accidentally cut the baby’s neck while trying to separate him from the umbilical cord.

M.S. also said the baby could have fatally cracked his head on the toilet bowl.

Suspicious nurses contacted police, who found blood spatter on her bathroom floor and walls, and the dead baby hidden behind old shoes stored in a vanity cabinet. 

They also discovered her computer searches for ways to prompt a miscarriage.

A forensic pathologist determined Baby Boy A had been killed while alive.

During a psychologist interview, a tearful M.S.—who’d sent a pre-birth cell phone text message to her boyfriend that he would soon become “a baby daddy”—cited remorse.

“She wanted the baby to return to life because she regretted her actions,” appellate justices noted from a doctor’s inquiry.

But M.S. wasn’t happy she’d been convicted of second-degree murder and made a temporary ward of a state juvenile group home designed for rehabilitation.

Claiming a post traumatic distress disorder (PTSD), she argued there was no evidence of her malice against her son and demanded a maximum two-year placement in either an inpatient or outpatient mental health program that would conclude her culpability.

But state appellate justices weren’t convinced.

They determined the juvenile court judge’s decision was appropriate and in “the best interest of the public.”