ILLINOIS jury deadlocks in midwife trial - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

ILLINOIS jury deadlocks in midwife trial

Updated:
WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP) _ Jurors considering the case of a midwife charged with involuntary manslaughter in a newborn's death agreed the woman was rash but could not agree she was a killer.

``All of us agreed she was reckless,'' juror Tony Gardin said Monday after Lake County Judge James Booras declared a mistrial. ``The big point for us was the inaction, not calling 911.''

The jury acquitted Yvonne Cryns, 50, a lay midwife, on a charge of involuntary manslaughter of an unborn child and indicated it was deadlocked on a second involuntary manslaughter count assessed after the baby was born. The jury said it was 10-2 to convict.

``We all thought she was reckless,'' juror D.J. McCullough said. ``But we can't come to terms, at least two of us couldn't come to terms, with the fact that she caused the baby's death. I felt like not giving that baby an opportunity to live was reason enough for me.''

Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller said he planned to retry the second involuntary-manslaughter charge, although he would not rule out a plea bargain.

Prosecutors argued that Cryns showed a reckless disregard for the safety of the child and the mother when she presided over a difficult feet-first breech delivery Aug. 19 at the home of Heather Verzi in Round Lake Beach, north of Chicago.

Cryns didn't react fast enough with the baby, Spencer Verzi, in obvious distress and let crucial minutes pass before finally telling someone to call 911, prosecutors said.

``It seemed to me that the baby didn't have much of a chance either way,'' said Mike Leitza, 29, one of two holdouts.

Cryns was not certified by the state _ like nurse-midwives who mostly practice in hospitals _ and had received a directive from the state to stop assisting in home deliveries.

Leitza, a physical therapist from Lake Villa, said he believed Cryns did a ``horrible job'' assisting in the birth.

``I really wanted to find her guilty,'' Leitza said, but added, ``If she had called 911 when prosecutors said she should have called 911, it would have been too late.''

Defense attorney Jim Harrison argued the Verzis knew the inherent risk of home delivery and that Cryns had advised them she thought it would be a breech birth. He said Cryns can't be held to the standard of a medical professional.

Verzi, who is pregnant again, testified that she supports Cryns.

The case has focused attention on the use of lay midwives. Supporters of Cryns, including several midwives, packed the courtroom 35 miles north of Chicago daily.

``It's a pretty sad day,'' said Brian Alexander, a home-birth advocate. ``I'm very afraid that this will place a horrible burden on women who would dare to practice direct-entry midwifery.''

Booras set a status hearing for June 21 to schedule a date for a new trial.
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