Times: Mom starved child, but court won't intervene with new baby

Times: Mom starved child, but court won't intervene with new baby

Credit: GREG GILBERT / The Seattle Times

A pregnant Brittainy Labberton, left, and her husband, Samuel Labberton, appear in King County court Thursday, July 29, 2010.

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by JENNIFER SULLIVAN / The Seattle Times

KING5.com

Posted on July 30, 2010 at 10:26 AM

A King County judge has denied a request by prosecutors for a court order to prevent a pregnant woman — already convicted of starving one of her children — from having contact with her newborn child when the baby is born.

Prosecutors sought the rare injunction against 21-year-old Brittainy Labberton, who sat with her arms crossed over her bulging belly, rolling her eyes and shaking her head as Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sean O'Donnell told the court Thursday that Labberton had starved her infant because she was afraid she would become fat. A second child was removed from the home because Labberton threatened to kill her, according to court papers.

Both children were taken into state custody in late 2008. Labberton and her husband, Samuel, 25, are seeking to get them back, her attorney said at a hearing Thursday.

O'Donnell told Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell that he believed the third child — due in four weeks — could be in danger if the judge did not order the hospital where the child is born to take the baby away immediately after delivery.

"This is a train wreck; we all see it coming," O'Donnell said.

The prosecutor noted that Brittainy Labberton was admitted to the hospital earlier this month after failing to eat enough to provide nourishment for her unborn child, according to court testimony.

She has since been released from the hospital. The couple are homeless, a court filing said.

Ramsdell questioned why the case wasn't being handled before a judge in dependency court, where parenting plans and child-custody issues are normally handled.

A spokesman for Child Protective Services (CPS) said the state agency will not get involved in a child's welfare until after it is born.

O'Donnell said that a no-contact order involving an unborn baby is uncommon in criminal court, but that it was the only way he knew to ensure that the child would be safe from Labberton.

For more on this story, visit The Seattle Times

Copyright: The Seattle Times

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