Jury still deadlocked in Hanover Park baby's death

  • Jessica Cruz

    Jessica Cruz

 
 
Updated 11/5/2014 5:58 PM

"Stalemated." That is how jurors, in notes to the judge, described the state of their deliberations in the case of a Hanover Park woman who prosecutors say tied a plastic bag around her newborn son's neck and left him in a trash can moments after she gave birth in the restroom of a Streamwood Salvation Army store.

Deadlocked jurors deliberating the fate of Jessica Cruz, 22, sent a fourth note to Cook County Judge Bridget Hughes late Wednesday.

 

"No one can foresee changing their decision," read the note, which described deliberations as "contentious" and "detrimental."

As of late Wednesday, the seven women and five men had deliberated nearly 20 hours over 2½ days. Cruz is charged with first-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and concealment of a homicide in the Nov. 4, 2011, death of her son.

Defense attorneys asked the judge to submit to them a special verdict form to determine the counts on which the jury is deadlocked. Hughes denied their request.

Hughes also denied prosecutors' request for a mistrial and instructed the jurors to return Thursday to the Rolling Meadows courthouse to resume deliberations.

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Prosecutors say Cruz hid her pregnancy from everyone but the baby's father because she feared her mother's reaction. They say the baby was born alive and Cruz killed him to keep her secret. A Cook County assistant medical examiner determined the baby died from strangulation and labeled the death a homicide.

Defense attorneys, however, introduced an expert in pediatric forensic pathology who testified she believed the baby did not survive the birthing process. Dr. Janice Ophoven said not enough evidence exists to determined if the baby was born alive. She characterized the cause of death as "undetermined."

Jury deliberations resume Thursday.

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