A judge has issued a gag order in the case of a South Carolina teen mother accused of putting her dead baby in a diaper box and concocting a story about a stranger abducting the infant.
Breanna Lewis, 19, put the body of her 11-month-old daughter Harlee in a plastic bag and a diaper box, left the box in a wooded area near her home and made up a story about a man punching her and abducting her baby, officials have said.
A circuit court judge last week issued an order prohibiting extrajudicial statements and release of documents in Lewis' criminal case, Chesterfield County online court records show.
Public defender Matthew Swilley, who is representing Lewis, declined to comment on why he sought the gag order, according to WPDE.
Lewis' story about a man punching her and abducting her baby as she checked her mail on May 29 prompted a search and a brief Amber Alert before deputies found the baby in the box near the home.
Lewis faces charges of filing a false police report, improper disposal of human remains and destroying, altering or concealing DNA. The pending results of an autopsy could prompt more charges, depending on whether the baby's death was natural, accidental or a homicide.
The order bars public comment on the case by the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office, the State Law Enforcement Division, the Fourth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, Lewis and her family, any witnesses or potential witnesses, Lewis' attorney and Harlee's family, according to the Pageland Progressive Journal, which obtained a copy of the order.
“There is a substantial likelihood that the defendant may be denied a fair trial if extrajudicial statements continue to be made in this case,” the judge wrote, according to the newspaper.
Brooks said his office will ask a judge for a mental evaluation for Lewis. There was no word on when that request might be made.
In an obituary published in the Richmond County Daily Journal just days before what would have been Harlee's first birthday, the family says that all memorial services for the baby will be private.
"The family has requested that everyone please respect their privacy during this difficult time in their lives," the obituary reads.