Infant's Death Is Ruled Accident; Charges Dropped

Posted: September 18, 1988

Criminal charges against a West Chester woman who delivered her baby in a toilet were withdrawn after the Chester County coroner's officer ruled that the infant's death was accidental.

At a preliminary hearing on Sept. 9, Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Carroll asked West Chester District Justice Dawson R. Muth to drop the charges against June Christy, 23, of the 300 block of East Barnard Street.

Christy had been charged with third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and endangering a child in the June 15 death of her baby. Carroll said last week that charges were brought against Christy because the initial autopsy report, issued in July, had termed the death "infanticide." But a subsequent investigation by Dr. Robert Catherman, a Philadelphia pathologist and specialist in infant death, concluded that the death was an accident because the delivery was unexpected.

"Because of the suddenness of the onset of an unexpected birth, and in this case the baby was premature, we reached the opinion that it was an accidental death due to birth into a hostile environment," Carroll said.

The prosecutor's office, however, has turned the case over to Children and Youth Services to "ensure the safety of her three other children," Carroll said. Christy's other children are 4, 5 and 6 years old.

According to the initial arrest affidavit, Christy had denied to friends that she was pregnant, saying instead she was "just getting fat." On June 15, West Chester police were called to the Barnard Street home and found the infant in the toilet of Christy's second-floor apartment. Christy told police the baby was moving but she did not pick it up, the affidavit said.

Christy also told police that she realized she was pregnant in December or January but did not seek prenatal care, something she had done with her three other children. When asked why she had denied being pregnant, Christy said, ''It was nobody's business."

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