October 24, 2014

Elyria
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Coroner to rule on baby’s death

ELYRIA — An Elyria woman survived a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen, but could face criminal charges because the shot may have contributed to the death of her child.Police Lt. Andy Eichenlaub said investigators are awaiting medical records, which will be forwarded to the county prosecutor’s office to determine whether charges should be filed.

Cuyahoga County Coroner Frank Miller said he has not made a ruling in the death. It should come in about two weeks.

“It’s favoring homicide, but I really don’t know at this time,” Miller said.

The 36-year-old woman was about 22 weeks pregnant when she turned a semi-automatic pistol on herself outside a local bar shortly after 8 p.m. Sept. 1, police said. The bullet pierced her midsection, striking her uterus, Miller said.

She was rushed by ambulance to EMH Regional Medical Center and then flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. The baby was born three days after the shooting on Sept. 4, and she died two hours and seven minutes after her birth, Miller said.

She was extremely premature, weighed less than a half-pound and was about 10 inches long, Miller said.

Her gestational age at birth caused her death, as she was just barely considered a viable fetus, Miller said. The baby did breathe after delivery, but her lungs were extremely underdeveloped, he said.

“A baby born at Rainbow (Babies and Children’s Hospital) at that gestation has maybe a 50/50 chance of surviving,” Miller said.

That hospital, also in Cleveland, is one of the top-ranked neonatal facilities in the world. Rainbow’s 38-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit specializes in treating premature and very sick babies.

The baby was named and honored by family members with a private burial, according to the infant’s obituary.

Police say the incident that led to the shooting happened near a bar on the 500 block of Clark Street. A female witness at Chris’ Place told police the woman walked into the bar just before 8 p.m. and whispered something to a man inside the bar. The man and the woman then left, and the shooting occurred in the neighboring parking lot minutes later, the witness told police.

The woman was found by LifeCare paramedics bleeding in the bed of a pickup in the parking lot.

According to a police report, several people witnessed the shooting and at least three people, including the woman, were tested for gunshot residue. A .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol as well as a spent round were taken from the bed of the truck as evidence.

Police later determined that the woman herself was to blame for the gunshot.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.