COLUMBIA: A South Carolina mother who was convicted of homicide by child abuse for throwing two of her newborns away in trash bags will spend 40 years in prison.
Alyssa Dayvault had skipped the trial where she was convicted, but turned herself in the day after her trial ended. She remained in jail until Thursday (Nov 5), when Circuit Judge Steven John opened the envelopes where he placed her sealed sentences after the jury verdict on Oct 15.
Dayvault, 32, was sentenced to 40 years in prison in the deaths of each child. She will serve the sentences at the same time. She faced 20 years to life on the charges.
Dayvault hid her pregnancies in 2017 and 2018 from everyone, including her boyfriend and her mother, gave birth at her North Myrtle Beach home alone then put the newborns into trash bags and threw them away, prosecutors said.
Dayvault cried as she was allowed to speak to the judge as her family and her former boyfriend and his family sat in the Horry County courtroom.
“I want to apologise – to my family, especially my daughters. I hope that one day they will be able to forgive me for what I’ve done, ” Dayvault said. “I never meant to do anything. I never harmed anyone. I made a horrible mistake.”
Prosecutors said they could not try her for murder because they had no evidence Dayvault strangled or suffocated her children.
Dayvault told police in taped interviews that her daughter was born with the umbilical cord around her neck and died in November 2017 and she blacked out for at least 15 minutes after giving birth to her son in December 2018 and found him dead when she came to. She said she then panicked and threw the bodies away.
But a pathologist testified the baby boy appeared to expel meconium, faecal matter babies have when they are born, inside the trash bag. The pathologist added that showed the infant was alive when the bag was closed, slowly cutting off his oxygen supply.
Police only started investigating Dayvault after she went to the doctor days after the 2018 birth because a tear caused by her labour became infected. After giving her a blood transfusion, doctors discovered an undelivered placenta in her uterus and when Dayvault could not account for the baby, the hospital called the police. She then told investigators what happened during her 2017 pregnancy.
Even though Dayvault skipped her trial, her lawyer put up a defence. In her closing argument, public defender Sharde Crawford repeated the testimony from the pathologist that an autopsy could not determine how exactly the baby boy died in 2018.
Dayvault’s boyfriend and his family spoke to the court on Oct 15 after the trial. They said they were heartbroken that someone they trusted and loved would lie to them and do such horrible things.
Prosecutors said they sought convictions for homicide by child abuse because Dayvault showed extreme indifference to whether her newborns lived or died. The jury deliberated less than two hours.
“She certainly showed extreme indifference to the criminal justice system," prosecutor Scott Hixson said of Dayvault skipping her trial.
Dayvault's lawyer asked the judge to reconsider the 40-year sentence before she had no criminal record and suffers from mental illness. Dayvault will have to serve 34 years before becoming eligible for parole.
Judge John refused, emphasising he was punishing Dayvault for the baby's death, not for missing court.
“I did not take into consideration in any shape, matter or form the fact he defendant was not present," John said. “That doesn’t affect the sentence at all. It is the facts and evidence presented.”