EDMONTON (CP) No more jail for Edmonton woman who concealed birth, put baby in garbage bag
LISA ARROWSMITHThu Nov 3, 8:09 PM ET
EDMONTON (CP) - A woman who admitted to concealing her pregnancy and later placing her newborn baby in a garbage bag was spared further jail time Thursday.
A Court of Queen's Bench justice sentenced 23-year-old Nicole Anderwald to 90 days for causing the baby's death by neglecting to get help after giving birth and another 40 days for disposing of the infant.
But because she had already spent 3 1/2 months in custody, Justice Terrance Clackson decided to let Anderwald go free. She will be on two years probation.
"While this is about loss of life, this is not about murder," said Clackson, who noted that Anderwald's crimes involved deception but not violence.
"I'm not sentencing a killer, but a desperate woman wanting to hide her pregnancy from the world."
Patty Nixon, executive director of Alberta Pro-Life, called the ruling significant.
"It's certainly very disconcerting and it gives you an example of the value that is placed on human life," she said.
"Now when people hear of a child that is just abandoned and left to die, there's no uproar. There's this awkward silence . . . it was a poor situation, she was from some sort of background that was maybe, possibly dysfunctional, who knows? But they're finding some reason to justify that it was OK. And it's not OK."
Clackson said while the court must denounce Anderwald's actions, psychiatric reports show she was mentally unbalanced when she secretly gave birth to a daughter last year.
"The emotional repercussions will be a cross to bear for a long time to come," the justice added.
Clackson also took the unusual step of ordering the young woman to submit the results of quarterly pregnancy tests to her probation officer. That's to make sure that if Anderwald gets pregnant, she'll get the help she needs.
"I'm not trying to see that you not become pregnant," Clackson explained to Anderwald.
"But if you do, I'm taking steps to make sure the world knows about it.".
Last month, court heard Anderwald gave birth to a baby girl Aug. 9, 2004, in the bedroom of her family's Edmonton home before passing out.
After she woke up, she put the baby in a garbage bag beside her bed, had a bath and watched TV. Anderwald later told a psychiatrist the baby didn't move so she thought it had been stillborn.
She had tried to conceal her pregnancy by telling people she had a tumour, or was gaining weight, but relatives already suspected she was pregnant.
At one point, court heard, her mother gave her a note asking: "Are you making plans or are you going to dumpster the baby?"Before going to work the day after the birth, Anderwald stuffed the garbage bag in her bedroom closet where her mother later found it.
Co-workers said she was happy and told them an operation to remove a tumour the size of a watermelon had been a success. She was arrested by police at work.
Before she was sentenced, a pale Anderwald rose in the prisoner's dock and read from a statement, apologizing to her family and friends - many of whom she said still feel they failed her.
"I wish I could change the past and bring Angela back," she said, using the name she gave the child.
"Unfortunately, I cannot. For the rest of my life I will always wonder what she could have become and feel the pain of loss and regret."
The judge also said she should continue working at the call centre where she has had a job since before becoming pregnant, or report any changes in employment to her probation officer.
Anderwald was originally charged with second-degree murder, but the charge was reduced to infanticide after a preliminary hearing.
On Oct. 7, she pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of causing the death of a baby by neglecting to obtain assistance in childbirth and disposing of the body of a child.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Posted by Whetam Gnauckweirst at 6:22 PM