A La Verkin drug addict accused of child-abuse homicide stemming from the death of her stillborn fetus is headed to the Utah State Prison for a diagnostic evaluation.
Dayna Louise Pittman, 38, was ordered to prison by 5th District Judge James Shumate June 17 for a 70-day evaluation. A tearful Pittman thanked Shu-mate."I hope the court will send me for some treatment," Pittman said. Shumate will take the prison's recommendation into account when he sentences her.
Prosecutor Brent Langston said he will review the evaluation and will "keep an open mind about it."
Pittman's case is one of a handful of fetal-abuse cases that have generated debate in Utah on whether prosecuting mothers deters prenatal drug use or discourages pregnant substance abusers from seeking help.
Washington County used Utah's child-abuse statutes to charge Pittman with a second-degree felony homicide count stemming from her prenatal use of methamphetamine.
Pittman had pleaded no contest to the charge, which is treated the same way as a guilty plea. The charge carries a penalty of one to 15 years in prison.
After Pittman gave birth to the dead infant on Jan. 17 at Dixie Regional Medical Center, an autopsy concluded that a drug overdose was the cause of death.
In the early 1990s, several states tried to prosecute women for abusing drugs while pregnant, but these cases usually ended with dismissals or overturned convictions on appeal.
Pittman is only the second substance-abusing Utah mom sentenced for child abuse, although hers is the first prosecution involving a death.