The Clay County (Ga.) Medical Examiner's Office ruled that Treveon Isaiah Taylor's cause of death was homicide due to a broken neck
The family of a baby who was decapitated during birth in a Georgia hospital last year spoke at a press conference Wednesday after a medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.
The parents of Treveon Isaiah Taylor Jr., filed a fraud and negligence lawsuit in August 2023, claiming that the attending physician subjected the baby’s head to “excessive traction” and failed to perform a C-section in a timely manner, CNN reported at the time, citing the complaint.
On Tuesday, the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the July 10, 2023 incident involving the newborn a homicide, the office said in a press release. The family’s attorneys claimed at the Wednesday press conference, which was aired by Atlanta News First, that the medical examiner’s determination confirmed their claims outlined in the complaint.
The baby’s mother, Jessica Ross, was at full term when she went into labor last July and was taken to Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, Ga., her attorneys said. But shoulder dystocia — which means the baby’s shoulder became caught in the birth canal — complicated the delivery.
“The baby was decapitated for sure as a complication from shoulder dystocia,” attorney Roderick Edmond, himself a doctor who formerly practiced medicine, said Wednesday. “But the standards of care are very, very simple. When there is a shoulder dystocia, there are tried and true things that must be done.”
The delivery resulted in a fracture of the baby’s upper cervical spine according to the medical examiner’s office. Edmond said that proper protocol wasn't followed at multiple steps in the process.
For one, he claimed, doctors should have called for additional resources when they became aware of the shoulder dystocia. Additionally, Edmond added, "The baby’s neck was broken while Dr. [Tracey] St. Julian was applying excessive traction on the baby’s neck in the face of shoulder dystocia.”
Edmond and fellow attorney Cory Lynch both said their focus was on the civil case, and did not speculate whether they believe the medical examiner's homicide ruling meant there was a crime committed.
In its press release, the medical examiner’s office clarified that the cause of death of homicide means the death was “caused by the actions of another person,” which does not necessarily indicate a crime was committed.
After the baby was decapitated, his body and legs were removed during a C-section procedure. But the baby’s head was delivered vaginally, the Associated Press previously reported.
Edmond reiterated the claim Wednesday that after the baby’s death, hospital staff urged Ross and her partner, Treveon Sr., to cremate the baby and told them they were not eligible to have an autopsy paid for by the county.
Furthermore, Edmond claimed when the couple asked to see their baby, hospital staff tightly wrapped the baby and propped up his head, which the parents believe constituted an attempt to conceal what had happened to their child.
“Lies and cover ups,” Edmond alleged.
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The medical examiner’s office said it was notified of the decapitation by the funeral home, rather than the hospital, after which an investigation was launched.
Treveon Sr. and Ross both appeared at the press conference Wednesday, and the former spoke publicly for the first time.
"We just want justice for our son,” he said. Referencing hospital staff, he alleged, “They lied to us.”
Ross, who was overcome with emotion Wednesday, did not speak at the press conference.
After the death was ruled a homicide, Southern Regional Medical Center told CNN it could not comment due to the pending litigation.
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