SHENANGO TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WKBN) – Police in Lawrence County have charged the mother in the death of a newborn whose body was found under a porch.
Pennsylvania State Police arrested Brittany Robinson, 23, of Shenango Township.
Township police confirmed that the suspect’s father found the baby boy outside of his home near the intersection of Ellwood and Gardner Center roads. They say the infant was found in a crawlspace under the front porch, wrapped in a t-shirt and placed inside a plastic bag.
He found the body as he was putting up Christmas lights around 3 p.m. Sunday.
The Lawrence County Coroner tells WKBN that he believes the baby was placed in the crawlspace sometime within 24 hours of when it was discovered. Police say the baby was born alive.
In addition to criminal homicide, Robinson is charged with abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and concealing the death of a child.
Robinson told investigators that she didn’t realize that she was pregnant and said she couldn’t find the baby’s pulse after it was born. She said she never notified medical personnel or police because she was scared, according to the criminal complaint.
“There is a great deal of fear with unplanned pregnancies, particularly with younger women who are alone, perhaps,” said John Silipigni, director of case management with the Magee Women’s Hospital.
Police said a search of the home revealed that Robinson did know she was pregnant prior to giving birth, however. Police did not release information on the evidence recovered.
“Even if you don’t know you’re pregnant and you give birth to a child, you have a responsibility for that child’s care and safety,” said Attorney Matt Mangino. “If you don’t do that, ultimately, you’re gonna be held criminally liable for it.”
Mangino was the district attorney for Lawrence County when Pennsylvania adopted so-called “Safe Haven” laws, which allow parents to leave their newborns with hospital workers or police if they can’t care for the baby on their own.
He said parents can drop off children at hospitals or police stations with no questions asked, as long as they’re under 28 days old.
“There’s no effort to try to trace who the parents of the child are,” he said.
Mangino said even if Robinson’s baby died of natural causes, she should have called for help.
The Lawrence County coroner performed an autopsy Monday to determine the baby’s cause of death. Preliminary findings showed that the baby was seven pounds and 19 inches long.
Robinson is being held in jail without bond. She’s scheduled to appear in court again next week.