ATLANTA — A medical examiner has classified the death of a Georgia couple’s baby that was decapitated during delivery as a homicide, their attorneys announced Wednesday.
Treveon Taylor, Jr.’s parents have sued the hospital and the doctor who delivered him in July. Both denied any negligence.
The Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office found the immediate cause of the baby’s death was a broken neck and said human action was to blame, according to an office statement distributed by attorneys at a news conference on Wednesday.
The boy’s parents, Jessica Ross and Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr., say Dr. Tracey St. Julian delayed a surgical procedure and failed to seek help quickly when the baby got stuck during delivery. Instead, they say she applied excessive force to the baby’s head and neck.
“This is something that is clearly contraindicated,” their attorney, Roderick Edmond, who is also a physician, said Wednesday. “No credible, no reasonably competent obstetrician should ever do this.”
Attorneys for St. Julian said they reject the finding that the baby’s injury happened before death.
“The separation of the head from the fetal body occurred post-mortem and any assertion to the contrary is false,” they said in a statement. Although tragic, that rare outcome has been reported in the medical literature and can happen in the absence of any wrongdoing by the physician, which is the case here.”
Scott Bailey, an attorney for St. Julian, said in a court filing in September that the doctor used “every maneuver a reasonable obstetrician would have employed” to deliver the baby when its shoulder got trapped.
“Dr. St. Julian is an experienced, well-trained, extremely competent physician who acted decisively and reasonably under these circumstances,” he wrote.
Bailey’s filing also asserted that the trauma to the baby’s head and neck occurred after death, in the process of attempting to deliver the fetus by cesarean and save Ross’s life. It accused attorneys for Ross and Taylor Sr. of making “salaciously false public statements” to the contrary.
The hospital where the baby was delivered, Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, Georgia, has also said the baby died in utero, prior to the delivery and decapitation.
The hospital denied any negligence in a court filing in November, and spokesperson Melinda Fulks said she couldn’t comment Wednesday because of the pending lawsuit.
Clayton County police were investigating, with the possibility of referring the case to prosecutors, the medical examiner’s office said in its January 6 news release. An email to police was not immediately returned.