A judge sentenced Shelby Taylor to 25 years in prison Thursday after she was found guilty last week for throwing her newborn baby in a nearby dumpster in the Myrtle Beach area.
Taylor did not deny the facts of the case. She admitted to the jury that she hid her pregnancy from her husband and family and gave birth alone in her apartment bathroom before putting the newborn girl in a trash bag and putting the bag in the dumpster at her apartment complex early the morning of April 9, 2015.
Two brothers heard the newborn girl crying from the dumpster while they were taking out the trash. Initially thinking there was a kitten trapped in the dumpster, they found the baby in a sealed trash bag. The newborn survived the ordeal and will celebrate her third birthday this year.
Defense attorneys argued Taylor suffered from a psychological condition called “transient perinatal psychosis,” what Taylor’s lawyers called a severe form of postpartum depression.
Psychologist Robert McCarthy, an expert witness for the defendant, said there are about 100 diagnosed cases of transient perinatal psychosis a year. The condition is “very rare,” he said, and it’s commonly associated with what he called “baby dumping.”
Pam Sellers, with the Department of Social Services, spoke at Thursday’s hearing as the representative of the baby, now a toddler. “There are no winners today,” she said.
She told the judge she deals with a lot of difficult cases in her role supervising DSS investigations. But, she said, “this one is different.”
“I keep her in my mind to remind myself the importance of keeping children and families safe,” she said.
Judge Robert Hood asked her how the baby is today, if she’s a normal toddler and growing up as she should. Sellers said she was healthy, and called the girl “a miracle, and she’s a survivor.”
Taylor’s family members spoke on her behalf at the sentencing hearing, asking the judge for leniency.
Samantha Harper, Taylor’s sister, spoke through tears as she told the judge, “She has been in her own personal hell.”
“She needs to get better and she needs to get the help she needs,” Harper said.
Taylor’s grandmother, Christine Lilly, told the judge, “Her mind was not clear for months before this.”
She also spoke about the abuse that Taylor said she faced from her husband. Lilly said, “We spent many hours talking about physical and mental abuse that we both had been through.”
Addressing the court before delivering his sentence, Judge Hood said, “The one mom we’ve all forgotten in this case, that is the one mom, including Shelby, we should all be thankful for, is the one who told her kids to take out the trash.” Otherwise, he said, this would be a murder case, or no one would have ever known about the baby.
The maximum sentence for attempted murder is 30 years.