The trial of the woman accused of putting her baby in a trash bag and throwing the newborn in a dumpster began Monday. In recordings from Shelby Taylor’s first interviews with police, she said she hid the pregnancy from her husband and gave birth at home before putting the baby in the dumpster.
Lawyers for Taylor, accused of the attempted murder of her daughter, admit the basic facts of the case. “The facts are: she birthed the baby, she discarded the baby,” defense attorney Dean Mureddu told the judge Monday. But, he said, her mental state that April day in 2015 means she should not be convicted of the attempted murder.
Scott Hixson, chief deputy solicitor for Horry County, put it another way: “Did she have malice aforethought when she tied a knot in that trash bag?” Meaning, did she intend to kill her daughter just hours after the birth?
The baby did survive.
Taylor, with attorneys at her side, sat and cried in the courtroom as she listened to herself in the recording, at first denying, then admitting, to giving birth and putting the baby in a dumpster. About a dozen members of her family sat behind her, staring solemnly as they listened to Taylor, who was 23 at the time.
Taylor admitted to police that she gave birth early that morning and then put the baby in a trash bag and put it in the dumpster at her apartment complex on Fairway Village Drive before 5 a.m. Two brothers taking trash out around 2:30 p.m. that day heard the baby crying and found the girl in the tied trash bag.
In court Monday afternoon, prosecutors played a series of recordings from later that same day of interviews with Taylor and her husband, Patrick Taylor. She went to the police station with her parents that night after her family and friends told her police had circulated her photo as a “person of interest” in the case.
In the first police interview with Shelby Taylor, she is heard calmly denying knowing anything about the baby and joking with police. But after detectives talked with her husband, she broke down and admitted to hiding the pregnancy and putting the baby in a trash bag and taking the bag to the dumpster, according to audio recordings played for the judge in court Monday.
Patrick Taylor told police he suspected his wife may be pregnant when she started gaining weight and refused to let him hold her or lay with her.
The jurors on the case will not get to hear all of the recordings. The solicitor opted to only submit the first part of the recording, before they spoke to the husband, since police did not read Taylor her rights as soon as she became a suspect.
The motions the judge considered Monday gave a hint of things to come in the trial as defense attorneys prepare to have a doctor testify this week about Shelby Taylor’s mental state that day.
The trial will continue with opening arguments Tuesday.