Associated Press Published

Conviction Stripped in Drug Use Case Where Newborn Baby Died


The West Virginia Supreme Court is overturning the child neglect death conviction of a woman whose newborn died after she abused drugs while pregnant.

Friday’s 3-2 decision says Stephanie Elaine Louk must be acquitted of the December 2014 sentence imposed by Nicholas County Circuit Court of three to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Chief Justice Menis Ketchum wrote that when enacting laws about child neglect that results in death, the Legislature didn’t criminalize a mother’s prenatal act that results in harm to her subsequently born child.

Ketchum acknowledged the decision’s possible significant policy implications and social ramifications.

It says in 2013, Louk was hospitalized with severe breathing problems after injecting methamphetamine while 37 weeks’ pregnant.

In an emergency procedure, her child was born essentially brain-dead. The baby died 11 days afterward.