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Court upholds mom's life sentence for killing newborn, tossing body into fire

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Afraid her family will find out that she gave birth yet again, a young Dawson woman wrapped her crying newborn in a blanket and hid him for a day. She then tossed his body into a lit fireplace.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Georgia upheld Ms. Samantha Latrice Jessie’s murder conviction and life sentence for the death of her newborn son in Terrell County.

The “evidence was clearly sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that [Samantha Latrice] Jessie was guilty of the malice murder of her newborn son and the subsequent concealment of his death,” according to the high court’s opinion.

The following details of the crime were taken from the court documents:

Ms. Jessie was 18-years-old when she gave birth to her first child; a year later she had a second child who was born prematurely and had significant medical needs. She abandoned that baby at a Macon hospital.Then she became pregnant again.

Fearing her family’s disapproval, she hid her growing belly by wearing girdles and jackets.

The 21-year-old was living with her 84-year-old grandmother when in the early morning hours on Dec. 17, 2008, she went into labor.

While her toddler daughter slept on the bed, she gave birth on the bedroom floor to another baby boy. Her grandmother later said she had heard moaning and what she thought was a baby crying, but she had not gone into the room to investigate.

“After the birth, Jessie wrapped the crying baby in a blanket and hid him in the corner of her bedroom behind a bookshelf,” according to the court report. “The next day she put the bundle in her grandmother’s lit kitchen fireplace.”

Ms. Jessie’s grandmother meanwhile told her daughter what she thought she had heard, and Ms. Jessie’s aunt notified authorities.

On Dec. 23, GBI agents questioned Jessie, who at first denied having been pregnant, then later said she’d had a miscarriage and put the fetus in a nearby dumpster. The agents searched, but found no fetus.

“In another interview the next day, Jessie finally admitted she had given birth to a live baby, wrapped him tightly in a blanket, then left him behind the bookshelf until the next day when she put the baby’s body in the fireplace,” the report showed.

“Upon searching a pile of ashes in the backyard, agents found newborn-sized bones.”

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