Young mother finally in court for 4-year old tragedy – Attempted murder charge for baby’s death in 2009

POSTED: 04/25/13 11:54 AM

St. Maarten – The prosecution is unable to prove that Kenesha Tunisia R. killed her 6-month old baby on May 26, 2009 but considers there is enough evidence that the now 27-year-old defendant attempted to murder the child. Yesterday prosecutor Tineke Kamps demanded a 184 days prison sentence plus a 3-year suspended sentence with 2 years of probation. Attorney Eppie Sulvaran asked the court to declare the prosecution inadmissible fur undue delay and other wise to acquit his client or to drop all prosecution against her. Judge Tamara Tijhuis will pronounce her verdict on May 15.

That the case came to court at all after such a long time rather amazed attorney Sulvaran. The prosecution admitted that the reasonable term has been exceeded, but that this could be repaired with a lower sentence. The defense’s main bone of contention was the statement the young mother made to the police in 2009 after her arrest. The initial report contained some mistakes and omissions, reason for the interrogating officers to draw up a new statement. Kenesha R. signed both statements, the officers stated in the second report. There is just one problem: the first report has disappeared.

Prosecutor Kamps said that the case was an emotional one and also complicated both from a legal and a factual point of view. “This was a lovely 6-months old baby with an innate heart condition. His mom was taking well care of him and he was eating well – reason why he was nicknamed Fatty.”

But what happened in the night from May 25 to May 26 testifies of desperation on the defendant’s side, the prosecutor said. “At 8.30 in the morning of May 26, the defendant’s partner Marc reported to the police that he had found the baby twice during the night in a zipped up sports bag with a plastic bag over his head. In her statement to the police the defendant said that she had put the baby in the bag out of desperation. The baby died, but the question remains whether this is due to the mother’s actions. After the baby was taken out of the bag the second time, it seemed to be okay.”

An examination by the Dutch Forensic Institute NFI came back inconclusive, in the sense that the researchers did not find definite proof that the baby had died through asphyxiation. “I am unable to make the legal connection between the mother’s actions and the baby’s death,” prosecutor Kamps said. ”I am unable to say that she killed her child.”

The prosecutor therefore acquitted Kenesha R. of the murder-charge, but she did find proof for attempted murder. “I think that her actions could have resulted in the baby’s death. The intention was there. This also appears from her statement that she wanted to commit suicide and that she wanted to take her child along.”

The prosecutor took into account that the reasonable term for bringing the case to court had been exceeded and she also considered that the defendant was in a state if diminished responsibility when she did what she did.

Earlier during the trial, Judge Tijhuis observed that the defendant had planned to leave her abusive partner Marc. In her statement to the police the young woman said in 2009 that she was sad because her relationship was over and because Marc left her to her own devices. But yesterday in court she denied that she was in such a state, and she also denied having been suicidal.

This contradicts her 2009 statement to the police where she said:”Marc was leaving for the United States and I thought about suicide. I put him (the baby – ed.) in the bag and put a plastic bag over his head. I wanted it to die so that we could be together.”

The defendant’s partner stated to police that the two had had an argument on May 25, 2009 and that he heard the baby’s cries come from the sports bag. He took the child out of it twice during that night.

The defendant came to court yesterday dressed to impress in a simple but head-turning mini dress complemented by platform shoes with stiletto heels, large earrings and her hair pulled back in a bun. Yet, when the judge asked her to explain what had happened, she turned out to be too emotional to speak. She only offered that the child was on the bed when she went to take a shower on the morning of May 26 and that the child’s hand had turned blue when she returned to the bedroom. Then she had sped off to the hospital.

Attorney Sulvaran scoffed the blind trust the prosecution put in police reports. “Nobody has been able to reproduce the original police report and apparently the prosecutor’s office lost its copy as well,’ he said. “It is highly unusual to not keep the copy of the first statement on record. The officers should have made an additional report and explain what happened.”

Sulvaran also noted that the reasonable term had been exceeded by 38 months and that this ought to be reason to declare the prosecution inadmissible.

Attorney Sulvaran said that his client had withdrawn her confession that she had stated several times that she did not stuff her baby in the sports bag with a plastic bag over its head. The attorney said that there is no evidence pointing to murder or attempted murder and that his client had voluntarily withdrawn from the situation by asking her partner where the baby was.

Lastly,  Sulvaran asked the court’s attention for Kenesha R.’s medical condition. She has an innate heart condition, the same as her baby had,” he said. “She is on the waiting list for a heart operation in Amsterdam, but she could drop dead any moment.”

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