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Usnick found not guilty of murdering her baby

Emily Usnick (File)

Emily Usnick, the woman accused of killing her baby, was found not guilty of second-degree murder and guilty of first degree involuntary manslaughter by a jury Friday night.

Usnick's sentencing was scheduled for June 29th.

Jurors began deliberating at around 4:30 Friday afternoon. At 7:45 p.m. jurors said they had a unanimous verdict on one count, but were deadlocked on another. The judge ordered them to come up with a unanimous verdict. By 10 p.m., jurors had made a decision.

Usnick grew teary eyed on the stand as she described painful contractions she experienced in her testimony. Because she didn't seek medical attention for the baby, the state argued she was liable for the baby's death. Her attorneys said the state had no way to prove whether or not the baby was alive at the time it came out of the birth canal.

Usnick told jurors Friday her baby was not moving when she was born.

Emily Usnick was facing second-degree murder charges in the 2009 death of her infant, who she named Hannah. Usnick and several others were arrested during a February 2009 drug raid in St. Elizabeth. During the raid, Miller County deputies found the infant's remains in a plastic container in the trunk of a car.

On Friday, Usnick told jurors Hannah was born in late January of that year. She said Hannah was born very quickly and was not breathing or moving when she came out. She told the jury she placed Hannah's body in a large wastebasket and later placed her in the container. Usnick said she was very weak and very frightened after Hannah's birth.


Earlier in the morning, a medical examiner told the jury use of drugs such as methamphetamine by the mother during pregnancy can cause the placenta to separate from the wall of the uterus. This leads to the death of the fetus and a very rapid birth. Earlier in the trial, prosecutors said Usnick had used methamphetamine the night before Hannah's birth.

Prosecutors are seeking a murder conviction because Hannah's death allegedly resulted from Usnick committing another crime, in this case endangering the welfare of a child.

Editor's Note: The story has been updated with the latest information.

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