Anguished looks covered the faces of a few of the jurors when they came back with a quick verdict Tuesday that convicted a young woman of first-degree murder in the death of her newborn baby girl found in a plastic garbage bag and shoved under a bed.
“That was a tough one,” one of the alternate members of the panel said in passing during her departure from Sacramento Superior Court. Voting members of the jury deliberated for about an hour and 20 minutes before coming back with the guilty verdict on Courtney Kathleen Addington.
None of the jurors wanted to be interviewed, and neither did any members of Addington’s family, nor her boyfriend, John Minton, the father of the girl.
Addington, 25, became pregnant in her relationship with Minton, who told her he wasn’t ready to have children. As her abdomen swelled in the months before the birth, she told Minton, her friends and family she was suffering from an episode of irritable bowel syndrome – even after her boyfriend in hugging her commented once that he felt something kick.
Deputy District Attorney Valerie Brown said in court that it was Addington’s attempt to deceive Minton and her own family members that led her to hide her pregnancy and give birth to baby Hayden Elaine Addington Minton in the secrecy of her bedroom in her Rosemont home.
“I am so grateful to the jurors for holding the defendant accountable for her choices and actions,” Brown said after the verdict. “It’s almost incomprehensible that a woman would so callously end the life of her own newborn baby girl and expect 12 people from this community to give her a pass.”
Defense attorney Jesse Ortiz argued that Addington, who had attended California State University, Chico, for a couple of years, worked two jobs and was buying her own house, didn’t know she was pregnant. He said she lost so much blood when the 7-pound, 8-ounce girl arrived this year on the morning of Jan. 25 that she also lost consciousness and had no recollection of giving birth or putting the baby in the bag and hiding it underneath her bed.
Ortiz said he was disappointed in the jury’s decision to find her guilty of murder, guilty of child abuse likely to produce great bodily injury or death, and guilty of child endangerment.
“I didn’t believe the evidence was there to convict her on any of the charges,” Ortiz said.
Tall and thin and wearing a salmon-colored sweater, Addington was “shocked” when the jury convicted her, Ortiz said. “I think given the relatively quick verdict, I think this is an issue of they couldn’t get past the pictures of the dead baby, and the emotion that’s involved in that I believe impacted deliberations.”
Besides the photos, the prosecution also presented evidence that Addington had conducted Internet searches up until the day she gave birth on issues related to pregnancy, such as water breakage. She’d also been pregnant once before, Brown told the jury.
“She’s a selfish, self-absorbed, spoiled young woman,” Brown said in her closing argument.
Judge Sharon A. Lueras scheduled Addington’s sentencing for Nov. 1. She is facing a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.