OXFORD – An Abbeville woman has been charged in the death of her newborn son, who died Nov. 28 after being left for a day in a car when overnight temperatures were near freezing.
Jilisa Jeffries, 20, was charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence.
After a 911 call summoned a sheriff’s deputy to her home about 2:50 a.m. on Nov. 28, Jeffries told the officer she had given birth to a stillborn baby some 24 hours earlier and put it in the car outside.
Lafayette County Coroner Rocky Kennedy was called to the home, and while he took photos for investigative purposes, he noticed the infant was faintly breathing. He and Deputy Coroner Glenn Coleman kept the baby warm in their vehicle until an ambulance arrived.
The baby, posthumously named Christian, was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford and later was flown to University Medical Center in Jackson, but ultimately could not be saved.
Jeffries also was taken to the hospital in Oxford for examination and was released.
Based on a weeks-long investigation, she was arrested last week, and after a preliminary hearing, bond was set at $40,000. Law enforcement officials will present the case to the Lafayette County grand jury to determine if the case merits a trial.
A conviction could result in a sentence of 20 years in prison.
Kennedy said it’s understandable that an unplanned birth can essentially paralyze a young woman with fear, prompting her not to take logical action.
“When my wife told me she was pregnant, I was scared, too – and we were married, and I had a job and insurance,” he said.
Mississippi, however, has had a “Safe Haven” law that allows anyone with lawful custody of a newborn to surrender the baby at a hospital emergency department or licensed adoption agency without fear of prosecution.
Spokesmen for North Mississippi Medical Center and Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi said neither hospital has had an infant dropped off since the law was enacted in 2001.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal