Retrial date set in case of Streamwood infant death

  • Jessica Cruz

    Jessica Cruz

 
 
Updated 11/21/2014 5:20 PM

A Cook County judge set Dec. 5 for the retrial of a Hanover Park woman charged with strangling her newborn to death and leaving his body in a trash can moments after giving birth to him three years ago in a Streamwood Salvation Army store restroom.

Earlier this month, jurors deliberated the fate of 22-year-old Jessica Cruz for nearly 20 hours over 2½ days but were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on charges of first degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and concealment of a homicide.

 

Judge Bridget Hughes declared a mistrial after jurors sent the last of several notes indicating they were deadlocked and that deliberations had become "contentious" and "detrimental."

Cruz remains in Cook County jail.

Prosecutors claim Cruz, then 19 and the mother of an 18-month-old, strangled her 6-pound, 11-ounce baby boy on Nov. 4, 2011, wrapped him in a plastic bag and put him in the trash because she feared her mother's reaction to her unwanted pregnancy, which Cruz kept hidden from everyone except the baby's father.

Defense attorneys argued the baby did not survive the birth. Testifying on behalf of the defense, Dr. Janice Ophoven, a pediatric forensic pathologist, listed the cause of death as "undetermined," saying not enough evidence exists to determine if the baby survived birth.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Cruz could face up to life in prison. She next appears in court on Dec. 2.

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