WARREN, OH – A case involving a Warren woman, Brittany Watts, 33, who stands accused of the abuse of a corpse, is set to be presented before a grand jury in Trumbull County. Watts is facing a felony charge stemming from an incident where she allegedly attempted to flush a fetus down a toilet following a miscarriage at 22 weeks.
The incident came to light when local law enforcement officers responded to a call and discovered a fetus lodged in a toilet at Watts’ residence on September 22. Watts, who was visibly emotional upon hearing her case would proceed, is alleged to have attempted to flush the toilet after the miscarriage occurred, leading to the charges she now faces.
Detective Nick Carney of the Warren Police Department provided a recounting of Watts’ account of the incident, stating, “She said she felt the baby come out and there was a big splash.” This statement paints a vivid picture of the tragic event that unfolded in Watts’ home.
Dr. George Sterbenz, a forensic pathologist, was called to testify in the case. He revealed that an autopsy conducted on the fetus showed no signs of injury. Furthermore, the fetus had died before delivery. Sterbenz also brought attention to Watts’ medical records, which indicated that she had visited the hospital twice before the incident occurred.
In his testimony, Sterbenz explained the medical circumstances surrounding the case, stating, “This fetus was going to be non-viable. It was going to be non-viable because she had premature ruptured membranes — her water had broken early — and the fetus was too young to be delivered.” This statement provides a scientific perspective on the tragic incident, shedding light on the medical complications that Watts was facing.
The case has sparked a heated debate between the assistant prosecutor, Lewis Guarnieri, and Watts’ defense attorney, Traci Timko. Guarnieri argued that the crux of the case lies in the treatment of the fetus post-mortem. At the same time, Timko countered by highlighting Watts’ lack of criminal record and the commonality of miscarriages.
Ultimately, Warren Municipal Court Judge Terry Ivanchak proceeded with the case. He concluded there was probable cause to advance the case, stating, “There are better scholars than I am to determine the exact legal status of this fetus/corpse/body/birthing tissue/whatever it is.”
This case brings to the forefront several complex issues surrounding the legal and ethical treatment of fetuses and the rights of mothers, particularly in cases of miscarriage. As it proceeds to the grand jury, it will continue to spark debate and discussion.