- Written by Madeline Halpert
- BBC News, New York
The death of a baby who was decapitated during childbirth in Georgia has been ruled a homicide by the medical examiner’s office.
Parents Jessica Ross and Treveon Taylor are suing the hospital for failing to tell them that their son was decapitated during his birth last year.
The coroner’s office said the cause of death was a human-induced neck fracture, according to a statement shared by the couple’s attorney.
The hospital denies wrongdoing.
Taylor accused the doctor and hospital that delivered her baby of lying to them and not letting her see her son, whom she named Treveon Taylor Jr.
“We just want justice for our son,” Taylor said Wednesday at a news conference in Atlanta. “They lied to us and wouldn’t let us touch him. We didn’t like it.”
Warning – Some readers may find details in this story disturbing
Taylor spoke next to his wife, who was too shaken to speak.
Ross’ attorney, Roderick Edmonds, said at a news conference that Ross went to Southern Regional Medical Center last July expecting to give birth to a “healthy baby.”
However, the family says the baby was probably stuck in the birth canal due to shoulder dystocia, a condition in which the baby’s shoulder gets stuck behind the pubic bone.
Edmond said common procedures to deal with the condition include surgery, and in emergency cases, a C-section. Ross said she initially wanted to give birth, but she was denied and she was forced to strain for three hours without giving birth.
Taylor and Ross allege that Dr. Tracy St. Julien, a general practitioner who is not employed by the hospital, used excessive force in an attempt to pull the baby out of the birth canal, decapitating it. The baby was then delivered by emergency caesarean section.
“A trusted, reasonably competent obstetrician should never do something like this,” Edmond said.
The BBC has contacted the hospital for comment. The medical center denied the accusations in a statement in August, saying “an unfortunate infant death occurred in utero prior to delivery and decapitation.”
The family also accuses the hospital of not telling them the baby’s head had been decapitated and of not allowing them to touch or hold the baby after birth. Mr Edmonds said officials instead encouraged the couple to cremate the baby without a post-mortem examination, claiming this was an attempt at a cover-up.
“They wrapped the baby tightly in a blanket and propped the baby’s head up on the blanket,” Edmonds said at a news conference last year. “They basically made it look like there was no decapitation.” he added.
The Clayton County Coroner’s Office said it was first made aware of the incident when the funeral home contacted the office because an employee believed it was “unusual” for the office not to be involved given the circumstances.
The office reported the incident to the police.