Chiniewicz Guilty in "Baby Joseph" Case, Out on Bond

By: Meredith Stancik Email
By: Meredith Stancik Email

After a day-and-a-half of deliberations, a Brazos County jury on Wednesday convicted a Dallas-area woman of criminally negligent homicide.

Susan Chiniewicz of The Colony was charged with murder, a first-degree felony, but was eventually convicted on the lesser charge.

It took the jury just ten minutes of deliberation in the punishment phase to decide that Chiniewicz, 37, would serve the maximum two years in state jail and pay the maximum $10,000 fine.

However, she is out of jail on a $100,000 appellate bond as an appeals process begins.

Chiniewicz is accused of giving birth in a Texas World Speedway bathroom and leaving the baby in a restroom trash can. She claimed the baby -- dubbed "Baby Joseph" by investigators -- was stillborn, but the jury heard conflicting testimony throughout the trial.

During the punishment phase of the trial Wednesday, prosecutors introduced evidence that Chiniewicz was pregnant in 2002 and 2004. Both were after her husband had a vasectomy, and both ended in miscarriage.

Prosecutors introduced the evidence to show Chiniewicz's reckless behavior. Prosecutors claimed Chiniewicz didn't care about her husband or her family.

"When she got pregnant in 2002, 2004 and in 2005 with 'Baby Joseph,' she wasn't thinking about anybody but herself," prosecutor Andrea James said. "She created her victim. She threw her victim in the trash."

Defense attorneys called several character witnesses to the stand Wednesday, including Chiniewicz's three children, two girls ages 13 and 18 and her 16-year-old son. All three testified that their mother was loving and encouraging.

Defense attorneys said the outcome of the trial could have been worse.

"We thought the evidence was not sufficient to prove a live birth, obviously the jury felt differently," defense attorney Jim James said. "Obviously we're relieved it's not a murder conviction."

If Chiniewicz had been convicted of the original charge of murder, she could have faced up to life or 99 years in prison.

Prosecutors declined an interview.

Other KBTX staff members contributed to this report.

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