Jury convicts mother in starved-baby trial
May 19, 1999
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A jury found a young mother guilty of criminally negligent homicide Wednesday for allowing her newborn son to starve to death by failing to recognize he was not getting enough breast milk.
The defendant wept upon hearing the verdict, which carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.
Jurors deliberated just over two hours.
Prosecutors say 8-week-old Tyler Walrond died of malnutrition in August 1997. They say his mother, Tabitha Walrond, 21, recklessly failed to nourish Tyler or to seek medical care because she was angry at the baby's father because he had a new girlfriend, who was pregnant with his child.
The defense argued that Walrond did not know she had insufficient breast milk and did not know the child was losing weight. The defense says, when Walrond tried to make an appointment with a pediatrician, she was told to wait until her Medicaid card for the baby arrived.
Jurors had the choice of acquitting Walrond or convicting her of either second-degree manslaughter, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years, or the lesser offense of criminally negligent homicide. They chose the latter.
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, in closing arguments Wednesday, showed jurors a photograph depicting a round-faced Tyler, taken just after birth, along with graphic autopsy photographs showing a gaunt and skeletal baby.
"On June 27, 1997, God gave Tabitha Walrond a baby boy," Johnson said, as he showed the birth photo. "And in eight weeks," he continued, lifting up the autopsy photos, "this is what she did to him."
"What god-awful sound does a crying baby make (when starving)?" Johnson asked the jurors.
"Who heard it?" he went on. "The defendant."
Johnson concluded by telling the jury to "do what he (Tyler) couldn't do. You speak for that little boy."
Defense attorney Susan Tipograph showed jurors a photograph of Walrond nursing her son, 8 days before he died.
"You look and you decide," Tipograph said, "whether Tabitha Walrond consciously, recklessly, and with criminal negligence starved this child to get back at the father of the child."
Starved-baby trial nears deliberations
Justices of the Supreme Court
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