On April 6, 2007, the New York State Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded to a call just before ten at night to an apartment on Colonial Road in Brooklyn. The call was related to a twenty-five year old woman bleeding vaginally. Upon their arrival, the EMS team noticed that there was blood in the shower area and that the young woman who was seated on the commode was bleeding from her vagina. She was cold and clammy and was transported immediately. The EMS team asked her if she was pregnant or if she could be pregnant. She stated that she was not. However, upon admittance into the hospital at Lutheran Medical Center, the doctors discovered that it was clear that she had recently given birth to a child. The woman refused to admit that she had delivered a baby.
The hospital personnel contacted the police department to locate the baby. The police officers returned to the apartment and questioned the sister of the woman who was in the hospital. They told her that the hospital had said that there was a baby and that they needed to check on the welfare of the child. They repeatedly asked the sister where the baby was. She denied that there was a baby, but finally told them that there were several garbage bags outside in the cold night air behind the apartment. When the officers examined the contents of the garbage bags, they discovered the body of a newborn infant girl in the trash. She was still alive, but showing no signs of life other than being pink in color. She was intubated and transferred to the hospital for emergency medical care. The infant died shortly after arrival. Her cause of death was from exposure to the cold and hypoxia brought on by being tied up in a garbage bag.
The young woman was charged with homicide in causing the death of her newborn infant. The defense attorney filed a motion to suppress the evidence that was collected by the police officers because they contend that it should be excluded from the case under the exclusionary rule. Their contention was based on the idea that the police officers had responded to the location without a warrant and had located the infant based on confidential medical information that was illegally obtained.
The state maintains that the doctors were well within the law when they contacted the police department with the information that the mother was admitted to the hospital after having just given birth to a child that was missing. It is a statutory requirement that any child that is endangered by reported to the police immediately. The facts of the situation made it obvious that the child was endangered. When any woman is admitted into a hospital denying that she has given birth, when the evidence is clear that she has, must cause concern. The fact that she would not reveal the location of the infant would lead a reasonable person to believe that the infant is most likely endangered, especially, given the temperature that night in April. The police were then legally notified that there was a possibly endangered child at the location where the woman had been collected. The police in Queens and Staten Island were then legally responsible to go to the location and make reasonable inquiry into the location of the infant. The court maintained that there was no impropriety taken in searching the garbage bags and locating the infant.
Thus, the woman’s defense counsel was denied their request to suppress all of the evidence that was located following the disclosure to the police by the doctors that she had recently given birth. The court determined that all evidence was legally obtained and was therefore fully admissible in a court of law.
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