Nicole C. DeJaynes pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter rather than face trial for second-degree murder in the case of her newborn daughter found on the night of Jan. 6, 2011, abandoned in a trash bin in Liverpool.
continued If she had proceeded to trial, DeJaynes’ claim of a stillbirth would have been a major point of contention.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Rick Trunfio said the county’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Robert Stoppacher, had determined that the baby was born alive and that asphyxiation caused her death.
“The issue from the defense’s point of view was always been that she did not know she was pregnant, she did not intentionally kill the baby and that the baby was not born alive,” Trunfio said after the plea was entered. “We would’ve produced evidence that after she suffocated the baby she discarded the baby in a dumpster. The issue in this case has always been whether the baby was born alive.”
The defense had hired a pathologist from the state of Delaware who was prepared to testify that the baby was stillborn.
Trunfio was relieved that a jury would not be called upon to determine the winner of a “battle of experts.”
If DeJaynes had gone to trial, said Liverpool Police Chief Bill Becker, the jury would never have believed she didn’t realize she was pregnant.
“The prosecution would’ve had the opportunity to convince jurors that it’s common sense that a woman who had already given birth three different times would certainly know she was pregnant,” Becker said. She would’ve recognized early signs of pregnancy, and “she would know what was happening when she went into labor.”
Several Liverpool policemen had prepared to testify at the anticipated trial. “We were ready,” Becker said. “We were proceeding as if our officers would be on the witness stand this week.”
The LPD’s Det. Michael Lemm coordinated the investigation which involved members of the Onondaga County Major Felony Unit, New York State Police investigators and Onondaga County Sheriff’s deputies. First responders at the scene were former LPD Officer Ken Hatter, who now works for Manlius Police Department, and Officer Sean Pierce.