PHOENIX, AZ (August 16, 2011) – After two trials, a jury today found Brittany J. Williams (D.O.B. 12/31/85) guilty of second degree murder for dumping her newborn infant into a trash bin last year and allowing the child to die. She faces a possible sentence of 35 years to life in prison.
“This was a hard-fought case but in the end, justice has prevailed for this innocent child,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “As a civilized society, we simply cannot excuse or tolerate the willful abandonment of a child, especially when there are options available for young parents who are unwilling or unable to keep their babies,” he added.
On January 11th, 2010, Brittany Williams delivered a baby girl in the bathroom of her home. After holding and caring for the baby for about an hour, she deposited her in a trash container at a vacant home several doors down from her residence near 19th Avenue and Roeser Road. She later estimated she returned to the site five times over the course of an hour and heard the infant crying, after which she returned home and accidentally fell asleep. Awakened by her family, Williams was questioned about her blood in the home. She initially claimed it was the result of a nose bleed and heavy menstrual cycle, later admitting to her sisters that she had delivered a baby and placed it in the trash can. Her sisters retrieved the child and attempted CPR but were unable to revive her. They flagged down a Phoenix Police officer who summoned additional help. Phoenix Fire arrived on the scene and later pronounced the child dead.
On January 22nd, 2010, Williams was indicted on one count of child abuse, and one count of second degree murder. A jury found Williams guilty on the child abuse count but was unable to reach a unanimous decision on the second degree murder count and a mistrial was declared on this charge. During the retrial, the defense filed a motion to dismiss the second degree murder charge on the basis of double jeopardy, arguing that a note from the jury in the first trial essentially indicated a decision to acquit on this charge. The court granted the motion to dismiss the count and ordered the State to argue only manslaughter and negligent homicide.
On August 8th, 2011, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court had erred in its decision to dismiss the second degree murder charge and denied the defendant’s motion for dismissal. The jury in the retrial found Williams guilty after deliberating for two and a half days. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 23rd, 2011.