Prosecutors: Woman who put baby in trash should be placed in state hospital
Defense questions whether client's competency can be restored at all
Al Hartmann, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Prosecutors have asked that Alicia Marie Englert, a woman accused of leaving her newborn baby in a trash can, be placed in the care of the Utah State Hospital in hopes she can be restored to mental competency to face trial.
In a motion filed last month, Salt Lake deputy district attorney Robert Parrish said Englert's mental competency has been evaluated by four doctors but she has yet to receive any restorative care.
Referencing research into a few options for mental remediation, Parrish said prosecutors can find no such programs on an outpatient basis in the state and asked 3rd District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills to order Englert to the Utah State Hospital for treatment. However, should an outpatient program be located, the state doesn't object.
The motion cite's the hospital's "track record of success in restoring defendants to competency," noting that such treatment can take anywhere from 90 days to a year.
The motion argues that until Englert receives treatment, the court can't make a sound determination of whether she can face the charge of attempted murder, a first-degree felony, filed against her in September 2014.
Police say Englert, now 24, secretly gave birth in her parents' Kearns home, neglected the infant for two days, and then abandoned the newborn girl in a neighbor's trash can on her way to work. Woman walking through the neighborhood heard the baby's cries and called 911.
The baby girl survived and was later released into state custody.
Englert's parents have contended since their daughter's arrest that she didn't understand what was happening after she gave birth to the baby, saying she has "special needs" and "doesn't process things correctly."
In a defense motion filed last week, Josie Brumfield, Englert's attorney, argued that the state hospital is unlikely to accept Englert and that a number of reviews and IQ tests indicate her client may never be fit to answer to the charge.
To be accepted for competency restoration by the Utah State Hospital's Forensic Department, an individual must have an IQ of at least 70, Brumfield noted. Since December 2014, Englert's IQ has been evaluated at 68, 65 and 64, according to the motion.
"Clearly, this is evidence Ms. Englert is not malingering and unlikely to ever overcome the organic limitations of her intellectual disabilities," Brumfield wrote.
A hearing addressing Englert's competency had been scheduled for Thursday.
Parrish argued that the hearing is unnecessary until an attempt is made to restore Englert to competency, noting that "the state does not contest that at this stage the defendant is to some extent incompetent to proceed, based on the four evaluations previously done."
Brumfield, however, has asked that the court assess whether there is evidence indicating a possibility Englert's competency could be restored at all.
Thursday's hearing will instead be used for a status conference in the case, according to court documents.
Since 2011, Utah law has allowed people to leave their newborns at any 24-hour hospital — no questions asked — without legal consequences.
Salt Lake County offers a 24/7 crisis line at 801-587-3000 where mothers or others can learn about counseling services. Utah Newborn Safe Haven can be reached at 866-458-0058 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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