Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect the current charges against the suspect.
WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A murder charge has been dropped against a Williamsport mother in the death of her premature child after police say she delivered the baby at her home and waited an hour to seek medical attention for the infant.
According to the police criminal complaint, on Tuesday, March 7, around 6:45 p.m., the Lycoming County Coroner’s Office was notified of an infant death in the Emergency Department at UPMC Williamsport after the baby went into cardiac arrest in the Williamsport Emergency Room.
The Williamsport Bureau of Police says Chemari Truax, 21, delivered a 23-week-old gestational infant at her residence in the 400 block of Fifth Avenue.
As the release reads, Truax said she was feeling nauseated and went to the bathroom where she delivered the premature infant on the bathroom floor of her home. Officers say Truax told them the infant was breathing but she didn’t think the child would survive.
According to law enforcement, Truax didn’t look for or call for medical help for the child. Police say she cut the umbilical cord but did not clamp it.
Police say after about one hour, the infant was still breathing so Truax brought the newborn to the UPMC Emergency Department. Shortly after arriving at the E.R., the infant stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest, the criminal complaint reads.
Officers say hospital personnel attempted to resuscitate the infant for 20 minutes but were unsuccessful and the baby was pronounced dead at 4:23 p.m.
Investigators said they learned Truax also had an abortion in November 2022, however, the procedure was unsuccessful. As the complaint reads, on February 15, 2023, Truax was seen at Geisinger Medical Center, Muncy Campus for abdominal pain where she learned she was still pregnant and that she allegedly tested positive for cocaine.
According to the complaint, UPMC medical staff requested a urine sample from Truax on Tuesday, March 7, the day the infant died, and asked if she had been using cocaine as well. However, Truax did not provide a urine sample and then immediately signed herself out of the hospital against medical advice, police said.
Investigators say while executing a search of Truax’s home after obtaining a search warrant, officers located the umbilical cord cut from the baby when she was born.
Lycoming County Coroner, Charles Kiessling, said the infant, a baby girl, was pronounced dead at 4:23 p.m. and an autopsy is being performed the morning of Thursday, March 9, at Forensic Pathology Associates in Allentown.
Truax was arraigned before MDJ Frey and remanded to the Lycoming County Prison after originally being denied bail. However, after Truax’s preliminary hearing, bail was set at $95,000.
At the preliminary hearing held on Wednesday, March 29, MDJ Frey heard testimony from Deputy Coroner Kathryn Kiessling, Natalie Miller, a UPMC Certified Nurse Midwife, Detective Aaron Levan, and Dr. Michael Gerst, The Chief Emergency Room Attending Physician at UPMC in Williamsport.
After hearing testimony Judge Frey decided to drop the charge of murder as it was determined that there was no malicious intent behind the baby’s death.
However, Judge Frey decided there was enough evidence to keep the charge of endangering the welfare of children and it is ultimately up to a jury to decide whether or not a conviction is warranted.
A formal arraignment is scheduled for April 10 at 8:30 a.m.