Judge sentences woman to 50 years for meth-related death of baby


Thursday, August 31st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


TULSA, Okla.-A Tulsa County judge on Wednesday sentenced a woman to 50 years in prison for the death of her infant, who died at home with a toxic amount of methamphetamine in her system.

District Judge Michael Gassett ordered Virginia Walkup to be punished according to June 23 jury verdicts. Gassett rejected several challenges to the trial result, including a defense claim that the conviction could not stand because the prosecution never determined a "definitive anatomical cause of death" for 1-day-old Dawn Walkup.

In a motion filed after the trial, defense attorney C. Rabon Martin contended that evidence did not establish "beyond a reasonable doubt that the cause of death was based upon acts or omissions occurring after birth."

First Assistant District Attorney Sharon Ashe said defense challenges to the trial outcome were meritless.

Jurors found Walkup, 42, guilty of second-degree murder in the July 6, 1998, death. Prosecutors alleged that Walkup's conduct was "imminently dangerous" to the baby.

Walkup also was convicted of a misdemeanor involving an allegation of child neglect, for which she received a one-year jail term.

Walkup was arrested and charged Oct. 13, 1998, and has spent more than 22 months in the Tulsa Jail. Gassett gave her credit for time already served, which means she has already completed her one-year jail term and will be transported directly to prison.

A medical examiner attributed Dawn's death to the "probable combined effects of adverse environmental conditions and methamphetamine."

The baby was born without any professional medical attention at an east Tulsa residence. She was delivered under cold water in a dirty bathtub, and Walkup cut the umbilical cord with scissors before clamping it with electrical clips.

On a day when temperatures reached 99 degrees, Walkup kept the child wrapped in a blanket in a hot house, testimony indicated.

Jurors cleared Walkup of a felony count involving an allegation that she injured her child.