County Seeks Input on Dead Baby Case
PASCO, Wash. - Franklin County Prosecutors asked for the public's help to determine the cause of death for a Mesa baby found dead in dumpster.
Monday prosecutors held what's called a Coroners Inquest. They don't happen very often. It's the first one Franklin County Prosecutor Steve Lowe have ever participated in and its only the second one for the County Coroner. But they said getting Monday's decision from the public was a good move in a peculiar case.
Prosecutors are trying to answer questions, that have lingered in this case for months. Prosecutors said back in March the woman who lived at 731 Olympia Road just outside of Mesa, 26-year-old Virginia Ortiz-Espana, gave birth to a baby girl.
They said Ortiz-Espana showed up to Lourdes Medical Center complaining she had vaginal bleeding, but her story didn't add up.
"And for what I've seen there. It didn't make sense, it didn't make sense," said Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Ruben Bayona.
Instead doctors determined Ortiz-Espana had given birth and deputies found the baby dead in a dumpster near her home. But experts couldn't agree on how the baby died. One called it a homicide, the other left it undetermined.
"We decided it would be good to bring it out in the open to the public and put it before 6 jurors and let them make that decision," said Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel.
Monday jurors agreed with Blasdel's recommendation, who sides with experts calling it a homicide. Jurors believed forensic pathologists who testified Ortiz-Espana neglected the care of her baby.
"Could this kid survive it had medical attention?" said Franklin County Prosecutor Steve Lowe.
"It should yes," said Forsenic Pathologist Jeffrey Reynolds.
"Why is that?" said Lowe.
"I can't find any other cause of death," said Reynolds.
Now had the jury decided against murder. Their decision would not have superceeded Blasdel's recommendation, but would have helped prosecutors understand the public standpoint on the idea of criminal charges.
Coroners anticipate if prosecutors file charges, Ortiz-Espana could face accusations of second degree manslaughter.