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Baby decapitated during labor at Georgia hospital ruled a homicide

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(NEW YORK) — The parents of a newborn who had been decapitated during birth held a press conference on Wednesday after the Clayton County, Georgia Medical Examiner’s Office declared the baby’s death a homicide.

Dr. Roderick Edmond, one of the family’s attorneys and a medical doctor, pointed particularly to the hospital staff’s alleged attempt to hide the decapitation from the parents.

“It’s diabolical in my mind,” Edmond said. “That they tried to basically force her to get the baby cremated to basically spoil the evidence. That they lied to them saying, ‘You can’t get a free autopsy at the expense of Clayton County.'”

The medical examiner’s office ruled the cause of death as a homicide, with the immediate cause of death listed as a fracture-dislocation with complete transection of the upper cervical spine and spinal cord.

Homicide, in this case, means the death was caused by the actions of another person, and not to be confused as a criminal charge, according to the coroner’s office.

Jessica Ross, 20, the mother of the baby, Treveon Taylor, Jr., was quiet during the entire press conference. When asked by her lawyers if she had any words, Ross burst into tears and was escorted to another room.

“We just want justice for our son,” Treveon Taylor, Sr, the infant’s father, said. “They lied to us. They ain’t let us touch him. We don’t like it. We just want justice for our son.”

Ross and Treveon Taylor, Sr., were in Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, Georgia, on July 9, 2023 for the birth of their son, according to a statement from their lawyers. The baby’s shoulders got stuck in the vaginal canal during the attempted vaginal delivery, a fetal emergency known as shoulder dystocia. Ross pushed for three hours without delivery, according to a lawsuit filed by the parents against the hospital in August 2023. An obstetrician and other hospital staff were present during the birth, according to the lawsuit.

“When there’s a shoulder dystocia there’s certain tried and true things that must be done,” Edmond said. “Things that must be done by the nurses – putting fundal pressure … and there should be an alert made to all people in the hospital so that other people can come get fresh eyes on the situation … we alleged that this was not done.”

The obstetrician applied excessive force to the infant’s head and neck during the attempted vaginal delivery and the nurses did not adhere to the hospital’s procedures resulting in the baby’s death, according to the complaint.

After about three hours of the attempted vaginal delivery, the obstetrician moved Ross to an operating room to attempt a Cesarean section, according to the lawsuit. The infant’s body was delivered through Cesarean section, the head was delivered vaginally and the baby was already deceased due to the excessive force applied by the obstetrician when she attempted to deliver the baby vaginally, according to the complaint.

Though Ross and Traveon Taylor Sr. knew their son did not make it, Edmond claims the hospital staff did not inform the parents that their baby was decapitated. Medical staff allegedly tried to convince them to cremate the body to destroy evidence, and told them that a free autopsy was not available through the county, and only allowed them to see their child through a looking glass, as he was wrapped in a blanket with his head propped on top of his body to allegedly hide the decapitation, according to Edmond.

The parents didn’t find out about the decapitation until three days after the delivery when a funeral home in possession of the baby’s body notified the county medical examiner’s office, according to Cory Lynch, one of the family’s lawyers.

The hospital did not immediately reply to ABC News’ request for a statement. Southern Regional Medical Center Spokesperson Kimberly Golden-Benner told USA TODAY in August that they could not respond to matters concerning pending litigation but “denies the allegations” against it.

“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the family and all those impacted by this tragic event,” the hospital released in a statement. “Our prayers also remain with the dedicated team of physicians, nurses and staff at Southern Regional Medical Center who cared for this patient.”

The Clayton County Police Department opened their own independent investigation, according to a statement sent to ABC News by the medical examiner’s office. The Clayton County District Attorney’s Office told ABC News in a statement that it is awaiting an investigative file and charges to be forwarded to their office. The police department did not immediately get back to ABC News’ request for a statement.

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