Crime

Evaluation ordered for Chester mother accused in newborn’s refrigerator death

Judge orders evaluation for Chester mother accused in newborn's refrigerator death

In this Sept. 19, 2016 file video, a circuit judge on ordered an evaluation of the Chester mother charged with killing her four-day-old son by putting him in the refrigerator. Attorneys for the state and defense made statements regarding the menta
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In this Sept. 19, 2016 file video, a circuit judge on ordered an evaluation of the Chester mother charged with killing her four-day-old son by putting him in the refrigerator. Attorneys for the state and defense made statements regarding the menta

The Chester mother accused of killing her newborn by putting him in a refrigerator will undergo an evaluation before a judge considers setting bond.

The ruling by Circuit Court Judge Perry Gravely came after a Monday bond hearing, during which attorneys for the state and defense made statements regarding the mental health of Angela Blackwell.

Blackwell, 27, is charged with homicide by child abuse in the death of her newborn son William, who died Feb. 27, just four days after he was born, authorities have said. Investigators say Blackwell put the infant in the refrigerator for three hours. The child was unresponsive when he arrived at a local hospital, and was later pronounced dead.

“Originally, there was a statement that the baby had been found unresponsive in his bassinet,” Deputy 6th Circuit Solicitor Candice Lively said during Monday’s hearing. “And then after further investigation, statements came out that the baby was actually located in the refrigerator.”

Lively requested an evaluation of Blackwell, who she said took special needs classes in school and has already been evaluated by the Department of Social Services, which found “some issues in regards to special needs.”

“We wanted to be sure all these issues are addressed fully,” Lively said. “... We want to make sure that we have not skipped over any type of issue that’s going to be relevant for us to be able to proceed, whether in a plea or a trial.”

Mike Lifsey, the 6th Circuit public defender who is representing Blackwell, said she has intellectual disabilities and that her school records indicate an IQ “in the upper 50s.”

More, Lifsey said, Blackwell is hearing impaired, with damage to both of her eardrums.

“I think there’s serious questions as to whether this is the proper charge that should have been brought against her to begin with,” Lifsey said, noting that there were nine other people in the home when the baby died.

Blackwell’s common law husband has said that her family doesn’t believe she killed her baby, but he stopped short of saying someone else in the home did.

“Some psychiatrists compared her to an elementary school child,” Lifsey said. “I feel confident that if I were put in a room with an elementary school child for hours, I could convince that elementary school child to confess to almost anything.”

Gravely, the judge, ordered an evaluation for Blackwell and said the defense can make another motion for bond 30 days after the receipt of the evaluation report. Blackwell will remain in the Chester County Detention Center.

Teddy Kulmala: 803-329-4082, @teddy_kulmala

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