NRL News

New charges filed against woman who used coat hanger to attempt to kill unborn baby

by | Nov 17, 2016

By Dave Andrusko

Anna Yocca with her attorney, Gerald Melton

Anna Yocca with her attorney, Gerald Melton

The Murfreesboro, Tennessee Daily News Journal is reporting that last Saturday, a Rutherford County grand jury “returned new charges of one count each, aggravated assault with a weapon, attempted procurement of a miscarriage, and attempted criminal abortion” against Anna Yocca,” according to Michelle Willard .

Yocca, who attempted a self-induced abortion when her baby was 24 weeks old, was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder in December 2015, a charge later reduced to aggravated assault.

As NRL News Today reported, last month Gerald Melton , Yocca’s court-appointed attorney,  asked that all charges be dropped. The three new charges, Willard reported, replace the original charge.

In September 2015, Yocca, 32, filled a bathtub with a few inches of water, then used a coat hanger to repeatedly stab her baby. “That’s when officials said the amount of blood alarmed her, and her boyfriend took her to the emergency room at St. Thomas Rutherford hospital,” according to Sam Stockard of the Murfreesboro Post. “From there, she was transported to St. Thomas Mid-Town in Nashville where staff members saved ‘Baby Yocca.’”

News Channel 5’s Jesse Knutson reported that at the time Yocca was arrested, “Police said the coat hanger caused significant damage to the child’s eyes, lungs, and heart.”

Even though the baby survived the trauma [weighing 1.5 pounds], physicians said the boy’s quality of life “will be forever harmed.” He will need a medically-experienced foster parent, remain on oxygen and take medication daily because of problems with his eyes, lungs and heart stemming from damage caused by the coat hanger. Medical staff also said other physical problems will arise when the child grows older.

 As we reported in March, the prosecutor opted not to object when Melton requested the first degree murder charges to be dropped in lieu of a charge of aggravated assault. Melton then asked that all charges be dropped.

Melton argued the law under which Yocca was charged does not apply to repeatedly stabbing an unborn baby with a coat hanger–just to parents who “use drugs, putting their children in danger”– adding that Yocca had never been in legal trouble prior to the attempted self-abortion.

Attempting an “all’s-well that end-well” argument, Melton said, “That child [named Leo] has been the subject of adoption and is happily living out of state with his adoptive parents.”

“Judge, it’s not just right,” Melton said. “This indictment should be dismissed” and Yocca released from jail.

The grand jury, clearly, believed otherwise.

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