Woman found guilty of attempted murder for leaving newborn baby in dumpster

Mother accused of putting baby in dumpster found guilty
Published: Feb. 8, 2018 at 6:56 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2018 at 11:18 PM EST
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Shelby Taylor was taken into custody after being found guilty of attempted murder on Thursday....
Shelby Taylor was taken into custody after being found guilty of attempted murder on Thursday. (Source: WMBF News)

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – A jury has found Shelby Taylor guilty of attempted murder for putting her newborn baby in a dumpster in April 2015.

The defense attorney and state prosecutor delivered closing arguments Thursday morning before the jury was dismissed for deliberations. The jury deliberated for about an hour and a half before returning a guilty verdict.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for next Thursday at 2 p.m. Taylor was taken back into custody, and the judge invited anyone to talk on her behalf.

The defense asked for a sentencing delay, saying they want the judge to have more time to review scientific evidence of transient peripartum psychosis around the U.S. this week to possibly lessen the sentencing.

"This is something prevalent in the world, it happens," defense attorney Greg McCollum said. "There has been studies of it and different jurisdictions in the state treat it differently, so we think it would be helpful if the judge has the benefit of seeing some of that science and how this is treated beyond what was presented in court. So we think that will be helpful for the judge to have that as part of the sentencing."

McCollum said, obviously, the defense team wanted a different verdict and a lesser charge, but they did accept the jury's decision. He said Taylor is loved and had huge family support present during the trial.

"People love her and that's obvious," McCollum said. "This is a devastating event for them. It was devastating when they found out this occurred. It's been very difficult and I feel for them. At the same time, I understand the public's position and how they are outraged over this. I get that, but her family has suffered as well."

On behalf of the 15th Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office, Jimmy Richardson released this statement:

I am so thankful for the work of Horry County Police and Scott Hixson and Car Walker who handled this difficult and emotional case for our citizens. These child cases always leave emotional scars, but I'm proud of their work and am thankful that baby Trinity is doing well.

During closing arguments, Hixson, the deputy solicitor, asked the jury: "We have one final question for you to answer; did Shelby Taylor with malice intend to kill her child?"

"Shelby Taylor had intentional deceit, not basic truth," Hixson said. "That is specific evidence of malice. When Dr. McCarthy said a symptom Shelby had to kill her baby was anxiety or stress, every parent in the U.S. currently undergoes those feelings about their kids. They don't kill them. Tying that knot in the trash bag is expressed malice. It's over, that life is in the rearview mirror and I am never coming back."

Defense attorney Dean Mureddu began his closing argument by saying transient peripartum psychosis was present in Taylor's case.

"To deny it or ignore it is just not the truth," Mureddu said. "They deny these known risk factors were present, but didn't offer any evidence that refutes that. They have the burden of truth, but no evidence nullifies what we know about transient peripartum psychosis. How could anyone know when they are going into labor, how long it will last or where it will occur? It's denial, it's delusional and child-like reasoning. Transient peripartum psychosis explains the bizarre behavior of Shelby. Attempted murder was the wrong charge from day one. We ask you not to use emotion, but the power of reasoning when you decide a verdict."

After closing arguments concluded, the jury was read the indictment charge and the two charges on the table for Taylor - attempted murder and a lesser charge of first-degree assault and battery requested by the defense.

After nearly an hour and a half of deliberations, the jury returned the verdict of guilty for the attempted murder charge.

On Wednesday, the final witness for the defense testified about the condition of Taylor when she put her baby in the dumpster.

The basis of the defense's case was that Taylor had an extreme variation of postpartum depression called transient peripartum psychosis. Dr. Robert McCarthy, a local clinical forensic and mental health counselor who did a comprehensive forensic evaluation of Taylor, testified for nearly two hours.

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On Tuesday, Shelby Taylor took the stand and she regretfully and tearfully admitted to putting the baby in the dumpster.

Her attorney, Greg McCollum, asked Taylor if she has seen the child since the alleged incident happened. The defendant said she has not.

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The 14-panel jury was selected Monday and then pretrial motions began.  Scott Hixson, the 15th Circuit Solicitor's Office's chief deputy, presented motions along with one witness and evidence.

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The first witness to testify for the state was Jeff Cauble, a former Horry County Police Department detective. He played an audio recording for evidence of the interview he had with Taylor after she turned herself in to police the same day the baby was found in the dumpster.

"We basically asked her if she knew why she was there and she, I believe she told us at that time that she just saw her picture on the news and wanted to know why her photo was on the news," Cauble said. "So it was at that time we told her what the situation was and that a baby had been found and it was found in a dumpster."

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