Araceli Velasquez-Espain Acquitted in Case of Port-O-Potty Birth

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The case had seemed open-and-shut when it started. Araceli Velasquez-Espain, an undocumented farm worker from Mexico, birthed a baby boy into a portable toilet at a farm near Boardman, Ore. in June of 2009, then cleaned up the blood and carried on with her day. A cleaning attendant later found the dead infant and Velasquez-Espain soon found herself faced with a slew of charges including aggravated murder. The woman's excuse was that she didn't know she had given birth. And on Friday, Circuit Judge Jeffery Wallace agreed, finding her not guilty on all counts.

The judge's decision was based mainly on expert testimony from Dr. Lani Miller of Legacy Health System in Portland, who spoke about Velasquez-Espain's unique condition that would make it very possible for her not to know she was pregnant and not to know she had just given birth.

She said that because the woman had given birth to her first child less than a year prior, that the second child could practically fall out without her knowing. The doctor also said that because she was overweight and exhausted from working in the fields, that her pregnancy could have been mistaken for menstrual pain, and her birth, for explosive diarrhea.

Prosecutors argued that she had either birthed the child onto the bathroom floor then tossed him into the toilet, or birthed him directly into the toilet and left. They said the fact that she left the port-o-potty, then came back with extra toilet paper to clean up the blood was evidence that she knew what she had done and wanted to cover it up.

Despite the ruling and the woman's impending freedom, her first child is said to have spent much of the trial looking "fearfully" at his mother.

The East Oregonian reports that Judge Wallace said the state had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

"I find the scenario put forward by Dr. Miller to be at least as persuasive as the other scenarios.?In my mind, there's a doubt. A reasonable doubt.?I find the defendant not guilty on all charges."

 
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