The fate of a Dallas-area mother of three accused of killing her newborn son is now in the hands of a Brazos County jury.
The jury was released Tuesday after five-and-a-half hours of deliberations, and will return Wednesday morning to decide whether Susan Chiniewicz is guilty of murder.
Chiniewicz is accused of giving birth in a Texas World Speedway bathroom and leaving the baby in a restroom trash can. She claims the baby was stillborn, but the jury has heard conflicting testimony throughout the trial.
Prosecution witnesses have testified the baby was alive at birth, while a medical examiner called by the defense claimed otherwise. The defense maintains if the baby was stillborn, it would not be murder.
During closing arguments Tuesday, prosecutors said Chiniewicz has created a web of lies. The state argued that Chiniewicz
lied about her pregnancy, telling friends she was gaining weight because of a medical condition. Prosecutors asked if she lied about the pregnancy, why would she be telling the truth that "Baby Joseph" was stillborn?
"Tell her you know the truth," prosecutor Andrea James said. "She murdered 'Baby Joseph.' We know the truth."
The defense argued that jurors should not be misled by the way Chiniewicz disposed of the body. Just because they may disagree with putting the baby in a trash can, that would not be enough to convict her of murder.
"None of us like what happened to the body," defense attorney Jim James told the jury. "None of us like it. None of us like those lies and deceit. None of us like it. But that doesn't make Susan Chiniewicz guilty of murder."
If Chiniewicz is found guilty of murder, she could face up to 99 years or life in prison.
The jury could instead find her guilty of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. If that happens, Chiniewicz could face up to two years in state jail.
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