OCEANSIDE — An Oceanside woman’s newborn died shortly after she gave birth on her own to avoid alerting Child Protective Services to her drug use, a prosecutor alleged today in unsuccessfully arguing that she should remain behind bars while awaiting trial on murder and child abuse charges.
A defense attorney countered that Kelsey Shande Carpenter unexpectedly and quickly went into labor at home in a “highly unfortunate” and “tragic” situation and should be released while her trial is pending.
San Diego Superior Court Judge David Berry agreed, ruling that Carpenter, who had been held without bail, be released from custody with a number of conditions, including ongoing substance abuse treatment and drug screenings, GPS monitoring and prohibitions against leaving the county without permission.
The allegations regarding drug use were the first details disclosed since the 31-year-old defendant’s arrest last month in connection with the Nov. 15 death of the newborn girl identified as Kiera C. in the criminal complaint.
Police initially said Carpenter was arrested based on “information received from the follow-up investigation and the autopsy results,” but no other details were previously shared regarding the child’s death or why Carpenter was charged with murder.
According to Deputy District Attorney Chantal De Mauregne, family members and friends had advised Carpenter to seek medical care and not to give birth on her own, but she “refused,” as she believed CPS would take the baby away. The prosecutor alleged the defendant’s other children tested positive for drugs at birth and were removed from her custody.
After delivering the baby at her home, the child went into distress. Carpenter called 911, but “lied about the circumstances of the birth once the police were involved,” the prosecutor alleged. The baby, who “ultimately bled to death,” De Mauregne said, was pronounced dead at a hospital.
She alleged that the infant tested positive for methamphetamine and a drug called Subutex — also known as Buprenorphine — which the prosecutor said is used to wean off heroin.
Defense attorney Brian White said Carpenter was undergoing drug treatment at an outpatient clinic and was administered Suboxone to treat her addiction. After becoming pregnant, she later switched to Subutex because it was “better for the fetus,” he said.
White said there were “factual disputes” regarding the prosecution’s allegations, but said Carpenter went into labor quickly, delivered the child and provided resuscitative efforts to the baby before emergency personnel arrived.
The prosecutor sought $1 million bail, alleging Carpenter was a flight risk due to the potential life term a murder conviction would carry.
In granting her release, Berry ruled Carpenter has a minimal criminal history, did not pose a danger to the public and was likely to return for future court dates.
The judge cited a recent California Supreme Court decision that holds that defendants should only be detained if there are “no less restrictive non-financial conditions of release” that would protect the public and ensure the defendant returns to court.