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Case dropped for Springetts woman who hid newborn in shoebox

Liz Evans Scolforo
505-5429/@LizScolforoYD
  • Police said Kelsey Martin put her newborn in a shoebox, then hid the box in her closet in 2015.
  • An autopsy was unable to confirm whether the baby was stillborn or was born alive, the coroner has said.

Charges have been dropped against a Springettsbury Township woman who police said hid her newborn in a shoebox in 2015.

Kelsey N. Martin, 21, had been charged with concealing the death of her child.

The charge was dismissed Aug. 16 by presiding Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn a day after prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss the case, according to court records.

York County Chief Deputy Coroner Claude Stabley has said Martin's newborn daughter is believed to have been full term. He also said the cause and manner of the baby's death have been ruled undetermined, because CPR was performed on the baby after she was found, making it difficult to determine whether the newborn breathed on her own.

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Reached Wednesday, Coroner Pam Gay said the newborn's cause and manner of death remain undetermined.

The York County District Attorney's Office's Aug. 15 petition states it was requesting the case be dropped "in the interest of justice" and notes that Martin provided them with documentation from a mental-health professional that she continues to receive mental-health treatment.

Her defense attorney, Chris Ferro, said he believes "without a doubt" that prosecutors made the right decision.

"I felt all along this was a horrible but very explainable tragedy, and never a criminal offense," Ferro said. "I applaud the district attorney's office and Springettsbury Township Police for the decision they reached regarding these criminal charges."

The background: On April 10, 2015, Martin went to York Hospital for abdominal pain, where she was diagnosed with a urinary-tract infection and given antibiotics, according to court documents.

Police: Springetts woman hid death of her newborn baby

Shortly after 10 p.m. the same day, an ambulance was called to Martin's home, where an ambulance crew found her bleeding heavily in a bathtub, documents state.

Martin denied being pregnant, or having been pregnant, and was taken to York Hospital by ambulance, police said.

A few hours later, a York Hospital nurse called police to report that an examination determined Martin had given birth, "but there was no baby," according to documents.

Police rushed to Martin's home, where she lives with her grandparents, and spoke with a family member who also was in contact with the hospital. Officers and family were there to find the baby and see if she was still alive, according to police.

The family member led police upstairs and told them the baby was "in a box," documents state.

Found in shoebox: Two shoeboxes were found stacked in a bedroom closet, according to police, who said one of the boxes contained bloodstained clothing.

Charging documents state the family member opened the second box and said, "Oh my God!" as he lifted the newborn from the box.

"(He) said the infant was warm, but did not appear to be breathing," documents state. "An ambulance was summoned and CPR was initiated by (the family member) and officers."

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After medics arrived, it was determined the baby was dead, police said.

Martin later told police she had no idea she was pregnant and that "the baby just started coming out," according to documents.

"Martin said the baby ... wasn't breathing, so she picked the baby up and held it in front of her, gently shaking it, trying to get it to breathe or make some kind of noise," documents state. "Martin said when the baby didn't make noise, she panicked and placed the baby in a shoebox."

'Wonderful' girl: Ferro has described Martin as "a wonderful young girl" and asked the public not to prejudge her harshly.

"There will be those who ... immediately hold up this 20-year-old to scorn," Ferro wrote in February, when The York Dispatch initially reported on the case. "Those individuals are not privy to all the facts and circumstances of this case."

The York County District Attorney's Office declined comment on the case.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.