Death of baby decapitated during birth ruled a homicide

By John Mercury February 9, 2024

The death of a baby who was decapitated during delivery has been ruled a homicide by a medical examiner’s office in the US state of Georgia.

The parents, Jessica Ross and Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr, sued the hospital and the doctor who delivered their baby boy, named Treveon Taylor Jr, in July last year.

Both have denied any wrongdoing.

The Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office found the immediate cause of the baby’s death was a broken neck and human action was to blame, it said in a news release shared by the couple’s legal team.

The boy’s death directly resulted from a fracture of cervical vertebrae in the spine, it said.

The finding appears to confirm allegations made by the boy’s parents in a lawsuit against Southern Regional Medical Centre in Riverdale, Georgia.

They claim that Dr Tracey St Julian delayed a surgical procedure and failed to seek help quickly when the baby became stuck during delivery.

Instead, the parents said that she applied excessive force to the baby’s head and neck.

“This is something that is clearly contraindicated,” their lawyer Roderick Edmond, who is also a physician, told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.

“No credible, no reasonably competent obstetrician should ever do this.”

About three hours passed before Ms Ross was taken for a caesarean section, according to the couple’s lawsuit filed last August, by which time a foetal monitor had stopped registering a heartbeat.

The C- section removed the baby’s legs and body, but the head was delivered vaginally, according to Mr Edmond.

Jessica Ross in tears during the news conference about her baby. Pic: Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
Jessica Ross in tears during the news conference. Pic: Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

Lawyers for Dr St Julian said they reject the finding that the baby’s injury happened before death.

“Although tragic, that rare outcome has been reported in the medical literature and can happen in the absence of any wrongdoing by the physician, which is the case here,” they said.

One of the lawyers, Scott Bailey, said in a court filing in September that the doctor used “every manoeuvre a reasonable obstetrician would have employed” to deliver the baby when his shoulder became trapped.

He also asserted that the trauma to the baby’s head and neck occurred after death, in the process of attempting to deliver the foetus by caesarean and save Ms Ross’s life.

The court filing accused the couple’s legal team of making “salaciously false public statements” to the contrary.

The hospital where the baby was delivered has also said the baby died in the uterus.

It denied any negligence in a court filing in November, and spokesperson Melinda Fulks said she couldn’t comment on Wednesday because of the lawsuit.

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Clayton County police are investigating, with the possibility of referring the case to prosecutors, the medical examiner’s office said last month.

Major Frank Thomas said on Wednesday the case was still under investigation, adding the police department will not comment on details of active cases.


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