Woman who put baby in dumpster claims ‘very rare’ mental illness

A psychologist took the stand Wednesday in the Shelby Taylor trial, explaining for the defense the psychological condition that he argued led the woman to put her newborn baby in a dumpster just after she was born.

Taylor is on trial this week for attempted murder. She admitted to hiding the pregnancy from her husband and family, then giving birth alone at home in April 2015 and putting the baby in a trash bag and taking the bag to the dumpster.

Two brothers found the baby crying in the dumpster hours later and rescued her. The baby is now a healthy toddler, officials say.

During almost an hour of tearful testimony Tuesday, Taylor accused her husband of abusing her.

In a tape of Taylor’s original interview with police, she told detectives that she had a “good husband.” But when asked by prosecutors if she had told police the truth, she said no. “I was protecting my husband at the time,” she told the jury.

Taylor testified that she was in denial about the pregnancy and did not want her husband to find out.

Robert McCarthy, a Myrtle Beach psychologist who testified for the defense, said Taylor suffered from a condition called “transient peripartum psychosis.” The diagnosis, characterized by the defense as an extreme form of postpartum depression, is “very rare,” he said, and there are only about 100 people a year diagnosed with it in the United States.

McCarthy said the psychosis is associated with baby dumping. “An overwhelming number of women arrested for this offense have that diagnosis.

He explained that the psychological condition can be acute and short-lived in the time just around the birth of a baby. He said the psychosis would lead women to “engage in behaviors they ordinarily wouldn’t do.”

Earlier in the trial, Taylor told the jury that early in the morning on April 9, 2015, she started feeling pain in her stomach and went to the bathroom more than 50 times, eventually realizing she was in labor. She gave birth by herself in the bathroom and then, she said from the stand, put the baby in a trash bag and discarded it in a dumpster at the apartment complex.

Police used a receipt from that trash bag to get surveillance video of Taylor buying dinner the day before and circulated her picture to the media. Police told the jury this week that Taylor went with her parents to the police station that night.

According to recordings played in court, she first denied knowing anything about the baby. But, after police talked to her husband, she broke down and admitted to hiding the pregnancy and putting the baby in the dumpster.

The trial will likely wrap up Thursday morning with closing arguments before the judge puts the charges to the jury.

Charles Duncan: 843-626-0307, @duncanreporting