In Michigan, 24-year-old Kimberly Pappas gave birth in a bathroom at her place of employment and then stuffed her baby into a plastic bag. After the discovery, the mother and baby were sent to the hospital but the child was pronounced dead on arrival. Initially, Kimberly told first responders that she had miscarried.
As LifeNews previously reported, Wayne County medical examiner, Dr. Chantel Njiwaji, found that the newborn died of asphyxiation, and his death was ruled as a homicide because he lived for 20 to 30 minutes before he died. Detective Sgt. Kevin Crittenden said, “She stated that she had been at work, that she had thought she was constipated. After giving birth, Pappas cut the umbilical cord with a nail clipper from her purse.”
Kimberly was fully aware that she was expecting, felt the baby moving before she gave birth and knew about Michigan’s Safe Haven law, which allows individuals to give up unwanted infants safely, legally and anonymously. Locations that are considered safe are police stations, hospitals, firehouses and rescue squads. These statutes were designed to protect innocent infants from abandonment while simultaneously protecting the lives of their mothers.
Now Kimberly is standing trial for felony murder, premeditated murder and first-degree child abuse for the death of her son. On Monday, Kimberly appeared in court and looked pale. The woman’s sister, Cassandra Pappas, said, “She was really pale, she had no color to her. That’s when she started blacking out. She started going back in her seat and her head was going back. She was pale white.”
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The Detroit News reports that the sisters worked at CEVA Logistics together in Redford Township, and Cassandra said she suspected her sister was pregnant but Kimberly denied it. She explained, “She just said she was gaining weight.” Kimberly contacted her sister the day she killed her baby and said she had an “accident,” which is why Cassandra was called to testify in court.
Frank Arbour from the Redford fire department also testified during court and said that Kimberly bagged her baby and the placenta separately. He explained, “It just struck me as unusual that everything was bagged, separately. You don’t normally see that. She said she was embarrassed that she had had a heavy period and she didn’t want to go to the hospital.”
On August 31st, Kimberly will appear before the 3rd Circuit Court but prosecutors and defense attorneys are looking for a resolution outside of trial.
Defense attorneys Monday questioned Njiwaji on her methods of determining the baby was born alive, including the use of a lung float test that shows if air was taken into the organ. Njiwaji admitted CPR efforts could have forced air into the baby’s lungs after death, resulting in a false positive.
But the presence of “acute inflammatory cells” in the lungs indicates the baby lived after his birth, she said. Also, a “significant amount of fluid” in the lung tissue and a large bruise on the back of the newborn’s head both point toward homicide, Njiwaji said. “That’s what I have,” she said. “And that’s abnormal.”
Defense attorneys Monday called the matter “a complicated case” and argued for an involuntary manslaughter charge in the death, highlighting testimony that Pappas appeared pale and in shock directly following the birth.
There was no intent to harm or kill the newborn, they said.
Pappas lost a significant amount of blood, which may have contributed to her state of mind, defense attorneys said. Additionally, they argued the text to Pappas’ sister requesting new clothing shows the woman was not prepared to give birth that day.
The birth happened within 45 minutes and the baby may have been born “flaccid,” a medical term meaning it was not moving, defense attorneys said, arguing that could have led their client to believe the baby was stillborn.
“That gave us all of our arguments that we needed today,” attorney Raymond Cassar said after the hearing. “We’re disappointed, but we know at the preliminary examination stage it’s a lower burden of proof.”