Woman found not guilty in Ore. baby-death trial

May 31, 2012 - 8:45 PM
Baby Killed-Retrial

Angelica Swartout, center, stands between her defense attorneys Gordon Mallon, left, and Eve Oldenkamp during a news conference Thursday, May 31, 2012 in Eugene, Ore. A jury took less than two hours to acquit Swartout, who was on trial for the second time on allegations that she killed her newborn son, in a case in which no remains were found and defense attorneys argued the woman was never pregnant. (AP Photo/The Register-Guard, Brian Davies)

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — A jury took less than two hours Thursday to acquit an Oregon woman on trial for the second time on allegations that she killed her newborn son, in a case in which no remains were found and defense attorneys argued the woman was never pregnant.

Angelica Swartout's first trial ended earlier this year in a hung jury. Jurors in that trial said they were one vote shy of a unanimous guilty verdict, the Eugene Register-Guard (http://bit.ly/KBY767) reported.

In both trials, the 25-year-old former hotel clerk from Springfield stood in the witness stand and pushed out her stomach to demonstrate how she faked a pregnancy.

Swartout recanted a confession to police, testifying that after she got a false positive result on a pregnancy test, she pretended to be expecting because she became an "instant favorite" in a large adoptive family in which she had felt ignored.

She said she falsely told her family and friends that she delivered a stillborn son at a local hospital.

Swartout told police in December 2010 she delivered the child in a bathroom at her workplace, suffocated it and put it in a garbage container. But officers searched a landfill extensively and found no remains.

The jury heard conflicting testimony from doctors about whether Swartout's body showed signs that a child had been delivered.

Prosecutor Bob Lane relied heavily on Swartout's confession, telling the jurors in his closing argument they had heard the woman "say that this was a real baby and that, for whatever reason, she ended its life."

Swartout said she confessed because she was stressed and sleep-deprived. A defense expert witness said Swartout had a compliant personality and was "committed to a narrative about pregnancy."

Defense Attorney Gordon Mallon told jurors that Swartout was so embraced by her family that after a second pregnancy test at a Planned Parenthood office, she began living "two different lives" — pregnant to family and family friends, and not pregnant among co-workers, lovers and other friends.

He showed photos of Swartout that suggested her belly was smaller in September 2010 than it had been in July.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com