A jury found Shelby Taylor guilty of attempted murder Thursday. Taylor admitted to hiding her pregnancy and putting the newborn in a dumpster early in the morning April 9, 2015.
Taylor and her lawyers did not deny the basic facts of the case: she gave birth at home while her husband and 16-month-old daughter slept in the next room, then put the baby in a trash bag and put it in a dumpster at her apartment complex.
The baby did survive and will celebrate her third birthday this year.
Defense attorneys argued Taylor suffered from a psychological condition called “transient perinatal psychosis,” a severe form of postpartum depression.
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Psychologist Robert McCarthy, an expert witness for the defendant, said there are about 100 diagnosed cases of transient perinatal psychosis a year. The condition is “very rare,” he said, and it’s commonly associated with what he called “baby dumping.”
In closing arguments Thursday morning, defense attorney Dean Mureddu said “every single scientific risk factor is present in this case” for the psychosis diagnosis. It is “not some made-up condition,” he said.
Describing Taylor’s actions, her attorney said, “It’s denial, it’s delusional, it’s child-like reasoning: if I ignore it, it will go away.”
In Prosecutor Scott Hixson’s closing, he told the jury Taylor intentionally deceived everyone in her life and intended to kill her baby. “That’s not a mental disease or defect, that’s infanticide,” he told the jury.
“We don’t put babies in a trash bag and tie a knot around it,” Hixson said.
The jury could find Taylor guilty of attempted murder or assault. Hixson argued the jury should convict for attempted murder. He said Taylor’s actions show her intent: “I do not want that life to live because it is an inconvenience to me,” the prosecutor told the jury.
The four-day trial included testimony from one of the boys who found the baby in the dumpster, some of the first responders on the scene, and from Taylor herself.
Taylor took the stand on the second day of the trial and gave tearful testimony about what happened that day, admitting to hiding the pregnancy and putting her newborn in the dumpster.
She also accused her husband of being abusive and controlling.
In a recording of Taylor’s first interview with police, more than 12 hours after she gave birth, she said she had a “good husband.” She later changed her story about Patrick Taylor, and told the jury this week, “I was protecting my husband at the time.”
The jury also heard from Raymond Price, who was 13 at the time he and his brother found the newborn in the trash. The brothers were taking out the trash when they thought they heard a kitten crying from the dumpster. Instead of finding a kitten in the dumpster, they found a baby in a white plastic trash bag.
He said they “found the bag with the baby’s face pressed up against the bag.”
The jury also heard from a police officer and a paramedic who were first on the scene after the brothers pulled the baby from the dumpster and ripped open the trash bag.
Horry County Fire Rescue paramedic Capt. Keith Drabick described the scene when he arrived for the jury.
He said from the stand, “I found the infant still in the trash bag” with people around the newborn, adding there was “lots of food and common household trash about the baby’s face.”
He said he cleared the newborn’s airway and cleaned her off. “I got into the back of the ambulance, still maintaining care of the child, sat on the stretcher, and they strapped me in as I held the baby, and we transferred the baby to Waccamaw Hospital caring for it.”