One of the brothers who found a baby in a dumpster almost three years ago described to a jury Tuesday how he heard the newborn crying from a trash bag.
Shelby Taylor’s trial for attempted murder of her newborn daughter began this week with testimony from one of the brothers who found the baby in early April 2015, along with first responders and Horry County police officers who investigated the case.
The baby did live, county officials say, and is now approaching her third birthday in April.
Raymond Price, who was 13 at the time, told the court that he and his brother first thought they heard a cat crying from inside the dumpster when they went in to rescue it. Instead, they found a white trash bag with a baby girl inside, just hours old. He said they “found the bag with the baby’s face pressed up against the bag.”
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He said they pulled the bag out of the dumpster and then he ran for help as his brother watched the baby.
Jeremy Neely, one of the first police officers on the scene, told the jury he found a receipt from Mon Cafe, a Japanese restaurant in Surfside, in the bag, along with food containers from the restaurant. That receipt with a time stamp led police to get a photo of Taylor from the restaurant’s security cameras and circulate it to the media.
Taylor went with her parents to the police station the night the baby was found after, she told police, her grandmother said she saw her picture on the news.
In a recorded interview with police that night, Taylor denied being pregnant or knowing anything about the baby. But after police spoke with her husband, her story changed. She broke down and admitted to hiding the pregnancy from her husband for months, giving birth at home that morning and putting the baby in the dumpster.
The jury will only hear part of the recording from that first interview with Taylor and police because, the solicitor admitted, the officer should have read her rights to her as soon as she went from being a “person of interest” to a suspect.
One the first day of the trial, defense attorney Dean Mureddu told the judge that the basic facts are not in dispute. “The facts are: she birthed the baby, she discarded the baby,” he said. But, the attorney argued in his opening statement to the jury Tuesday, “There is more to this case than that. It’s not that simple.”
Mureddu said his client suffered from a condition called “transient perinatal psychosis,” what he called an “extreme variation of postpartum depression.”
Taylor’s attorneys plan to call an expert witness, a local doctor, to talk about her mental condition when she gave birth at home and put the baby in the dumpster.
The prosecutors on the case take a different position. Cara Walker, with the Horry County Solicitor’s Office, told the jury, “Shelby Taylor’s actions are why we are here today.” She continued, Taylor left “her there for dead, intending for her to die there.”
First responders testify
The jury heard testimony from some of the first police and paramedics to get on the scene that day at the apartment complex on Fairway Village Drive in Myrtle Beach.
Capt. Keith Drabick, a paramedic with Horry County Fire Rescue, recalled the scene when he arrived.
He said, “I found the infant still in the trash bag” with people around the newborn. He said there was “Lots of food and common household trash about the baby’s face.”
He cleared the baby girl’s airway, he explained, and cleaned her off. “I got into the back of the ambulance, still maintaining care of the child, sat on the stretcher, and they strapped me in as I held the baby, and we transferred the baby to Waccamaw Hospital caring for it.”
Horry County Police Detective Jeremy Neely also took the stand as one of the first uniformed officers on the scene.
He described the same scene when he got there: “I saw the child laying on the ground. She was inside of what appeared to be a ripped open trash bag. There were several items of trash both on and around the child.”
He said he checked to see the baby was alive as Drabick, the paramedic arrived, but then began investigating the scene. He was the one who found the receipt leading to Taylor.