BY Dollita Okine, 10:06am January 15, 2024,

Brittany Watts abuse of corpse case: Woman won’t face criminal charge after she miscarried

Brittany Watts was charged with felony misuse of a body after the remains of her 22-week-old fetus were discovered in a toilet at her home. Photo: screenshot/wkbn

Brittany Watts, 34, was cleared of a criminal charge for her management of a home miscarriage. The Trumbull County prosecutor’s office announced that grand jurors declined to return an indictment for abuse of a corpse against Watts on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

This ends a case that garnered national attention due to its implications for pregnant women as states around the nation work out new laws governing access to reproductive health care in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

Initially, a municipal judge determined there was probable cause to bind over Watts’ case after hearing from city prosecutors that Watts miscarried, clogging the toilet and taking part of its contents outside to be disposed of, and she left the residence, leaving the 22-week-old fetus wedged in the pipes.

In the days preceding her miscarriage, Watts had twice visited Mercy Health-St. Joseph’s Hospital, a Catholic institution southeast of Cleveland. Case records indicate that her doctor informed her that she was carrying a nonviable fetus and that she needed to undergo labor induction to avoid a “significant risk” of death.

Watts’s attorney, Traci Timko, claimed that, owing to delays and other issues, Watts left each time without getting treated. After her miscarriage, which happened at home, her friends sent her to the hospital, even though she wanted to go to the salon. 

A nurse there reported that a pregnant patient had returned and that “the baby’s in her backyard in a bucket.” This prompted a police inquiry, which resulted in Watts’s ultimate charge.

Assistant prosecutor Lewis Guarnieri of Warren argued to Municipal Court Judge Terry Ivanchak during the proceeding that what mattered was not “how the child died, when the child died,” but rather “the fact the baby was put into a toilet, was large enough to clog the toilet, left in the toilet, and she went on (with) her day.”

An autopsy revealed that the fetus died in utero with “no recent injuries.” Timko, Watts’ attorney, countered that her “Black” client was being “demonized for something that goes on every day” and that her client had no criminal history. 

She further contended that there were no precise definitions in Ohio’s abuse-of-corpse act, such as what “human corpse” means or what “outrage” to “reasonable” family and community sensibilities entails.

Watts was cleared hours before over 150 supporters gathered for a “We Stand With Brittany!” event in Warren’s Courthouse Square, which had been scheduled before the grand jury’s decision.

Watts, among several speakers who addressed the crowd, said, “I want to thank my community—Warren. Warren, Ohio. I was born here. I was raised here. I graduated high school here, and I’m going to continue to stay here because I have to continue to fight.” 

Her lawyer, Timko, stated that her client was able to bear the ordeal owing to the public’s support and prayers, which came in the form of emails, letters, calls, donations, and so on.

Timko said in a statement, “No matter how shocking or disturbing it may sound when presented in a public forum, it is simply the devastating reality of miscarriage. While the last three months have been agonizing, we are incredibly grateful and relieved that justice was handed down by the grand jury today.”

Should Watts have been found guilty, she might have been sentenced to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine, according to the Daily News

The charges are withdrawn nonetheless, in the absence of an indictment.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: January 15, 2024


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