Tara Ostrowski walked into the same courtroom Thursday morning where she once begged for a second chance after six minutes of her baby’s life ended in a concrete coffin.
Ostrowski is the mother who admitted she buried her dead baby son in her Rock Hill yard last May and did not seek medical help for him.
Again, as in December, she was in court in chains, led in by jailers. And this time she is looking at five years in prison if convicted.
This time in court, the name of her dead son – Adam – was not stated.
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“We are here for a probation violation bond hearing,” Magistrate Judge Dan Malphrus said Thursday. “I am setting the bond at $20,000.”
Ostrowski spoke up.
“May I ask a question based on the nature of the charge?” Ostrowski asked.
Malphrus held up a finger: “No.”
Ostrowski had left the same courtroom in December after appearing before a different judge who ruled she needed drug treatment and granted her probation to be able to obtain that.
She got that treatment, while in custody, and then got out of jail last week. When probation agents visited her home a few days later, officials say, they found guns, ammunition and knives.
Probation agents brought her back to court, saying she willfully refused to follow their advice and instructions – an important part of the sentence that kept her out of prison.
Early Wednesday, she was arrested for the alleged probation violations.
So here she was again, in the same courtroom where she promised a judge she would never come back.
Malphrus doesn’t have the authority to revoke Ostrowski’s probation and send her to prison for five years. Only a Circuit Court judge can do that, and Ostrowski will likely face that likelihood soon.
But on Thursday, Malphrus ordered Ostrowski up to the judicial bench. He wanted her to hear every word he said, so she was placed just 3 feet from him.
Malphrus explained that Ostrowski was in court only for bond on her being arrested for allegedly violating probation – not to argue the case one way or another. He told her that her case would be heard Oct. 17.
Ostrowski continued anyway Thursday – briefly.
“I would ask for a bond reduction,” Ostrowski stated.
“You can ask,” Malphrus countered, “but I am not going to give it to you.”
Ostrowski then was led back to jail.
When she pleaded guilty in December after her May arrest, the whole world paid attention. Ostrowski’s story of being on drugs during pregnancy, using drugs and drinking 40-ounce beers just hours before she gave birth to the baby boy while standing up in the laundry room, and using scissors to cut the umbilical cord, made international news as far away as England.
The world knew the baby cried while his mother called nobody for help.
Police and prosecutors determined that there was no intent to kill the baby, but that she did nothing to help the baby, either. The charge was felony unlawful neglect of a child.
A child who lived six minutes.
It all came out that cold day in December, when Ostrowski pleaded guilty and admitted that she kept her son’s body in a black garbage bag on the porch for a day or two before burying him in a metal box and covering it with concrete – hoping no one would ever know.
Ostrowski had hidden the pregnancy, used drugs, then a month before the due date, the baby could not wait and was born on a cold floor.
Back in 2015, Ostrowski and her lawyer in court blamed her husband, allegedly abusive for as many as seven years, for her hiding the pregnancy and hiding the birth and her fear to seek help before and after the baby was born.
But prosecutors told the judge that day that the husband had been to the jail just days before the guilty plea, to talk to the woman he allegedly abused so badly.
Prosecutors asked for prison time in December, but the judge chose a suspended a five-year prison sentence.
It is unclear if probation agents will ask for prison next month, when Ostrowski appears in court again, but the judge who hears that case will have options ranging from no penalty all the way up to five years in prison.
And Tara Ostrowski can ask that judge any question she wants, but she still might not like the answer.