Law & Order (1990) Episode Scripts

N/A - Mother's Milk

NARRATOR: In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups, the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.
These are their stories.
It comes furnished.
If you want it, it's yours, as soon as I get the legal stuff worked out.
Ah, first time I've been up since they're gone.
I'll get it cleaned up if you want.
You're sure the tenants aren't coming back? After six weeks? They're gone for good.
At least I won't have to hear their bundle ofjoy crying all night.
You'll repaint? Yeah.
And you pick your fabric swatches.
That's the bath, and that's the bedroom next to it.
Sign it or lose it.
Big call for places this sweet.
GINA: Kevin! JOE: That I can fix.
What happened here? It looks like blood.
KEVIN: My God.
Anything? Just a bunch of unopened bottles and a sealed can of formula.
Bathroom? Broken mirror, blood on glass shards, blood trail leading into the bedroom, in the crib.
Bag the shards and dust the crib.
Thanks.
How long the Beltrans live here? I signed the lease a couple of months before she popped.
Maybe it was a month or two old when they took off.
Any idea where? Nah, they're from upstate somewheres.
It's on their rental application.
How about where they worked? That's on the application, too.
When'd you first notice they were gone? When I first noticed I hadn't heard them screaming at each other in a couple of days.
BRISCOE: And when was that? Oh, landlord calls me last week, right? Says they missed two rent payments.
So I knock on the door.
Nothing.
I phone, it's disconnected.
And when did you last see them? Her, I don't know.
But him, he came out the front door a month ago.
He had a suitcase so big you could put a desk in it.
Or a body.
They lived there four months.
The neighbors didn't know them.
No one knew them.
Who were these people, CIA? CIA'd be neater.
Lease gave an address and a former employer up in Cortland.
We called.
Jimmy Beltran lived and worked there two years.
Nobody's heard from him.
Family? None we can find.
What about the girl? Super puts her at about 18.
Him, 25, 26.
Maiden name? ED: Not on the lease.
Well, maybe it's on the baby's birth certificate.
Let's hope she had it in the hospital and not in the closet.
Maiden name Steffano.
Father's name Beltran.
Son, Kyle.
Born October 10th.
Full term.
And, uh, the baby's blood type? Why? Well, there was blood in the apartment.
We need to know whose it was.
Hospital's discretion as to whether or not we type the kid at birth.
We don't.
You test for AIDS, don't you? Yes.
Baby and mother.
We don't check blood type.
Sorry.
And apparently you don't check for insurance coverage either.
Outstanding hospital bills for over a grand.
We knew where he worked.
Taylor Lumber.
Started mid-September, lasted a couple of months.
I felt bad.
Young guy just starting out.
Wife, new baby.
Yeah, I remember what that's like, but I got a business to run.
So you let him go? I didn't have a choice.
I couldn't depend on him.
Sometimes he didn't show.
What was his problem? The wife.
The baby.
When's the last you saw of him? When I fired him.
How'd he take that? Well, it's always touchy.
You don't know if a guy's gonna go nuts on you.
But, uh, Jimmy just looked at me like he knew what was coming.
Then he just left.
Have you talked to him since then? A few days later I called him about his check.
Nobody was home.
I left a message, but I never heard back.
What'd you do with the check? I mailed it to his parents.
The address was on his job app.
(KNOCKING ON DOOR) Can I help you? Oh, we're looking for a James E.
Beltran.
Are you Mrs.
Helene Beltran? Who's asking? New York City detectives.
Jimmy owe money? No, he and his family left their apartment and didn't give notice.
We just need to know everyone's okay.
You'd leave, too, if she tells you it's over and takes your flesh and blood.
What, his wife's got the kid? Yes.
Jimmy said.
Jimmy around? He's working.
Where? You gonna arrest him 'cause he left his apartment? No, ma'am.
We just want to talk to him.
He works over at Palisade Supply.
It's a hardware store on Fourth Street.
Jimmy's on deliveries.
You got a copy of his route list? Yeah, somewhere around here.
Here, take mine.
Thanks.
Uh, his mom just called, too.
Said she was gonna call him on his cell.
Ever know a mom who didn't call? He just dropped the load and took off.
Didn't even take it inside or give me a receipt.
How long ago did he leave? Two minutes.
He went to his truck.
(HORNS HONKING) (PEOPLE SHOUTING) MAN: What are you doing up there! Mr.
Beltran? James Beltran! Police! (TIRES SQUEALING) Move, move, move! Stop! Stop! You got sneakers, I got a gun.
Figure the odds.
Turn around.
Hands on the wall.
Where's your wife and son? I got nothing to say.
Correction.
You got a lot to say.
There was blood in the bathroom, in the bedroom, in the crib.
How'd that get there? I don't know.
Why'd you skip out on your rent? I lost my job.
Seems like you misplaced your wife and your kid, too.
I'm telling you, Beltran, I don't like baby killers.
Unless you start talking, I'm gonna ask my partner to leave you and me alone.
Just say the word, Lennie.
(DOOR OPENING) Mr.
Beltran, just got a search warrant for your things at your parents' house.
Anything you want to tell me before I send my detectives over? She dumps him, and he's the one in trouble.
Where's the sense? This is interesting.
Our Mother of Sorrows Church activities pamphlet.
And this.
Is this your daughter-in-law and grandson? That's Amy and Kyle with Jimmy.
"Kyle, three weeks old.
" Mother of Sorrows is right.
Month and a half, this man's been coming here to morning mass.
Every morning? Two, three times a week.
He doesn't always take communion.
Have you spoken to him personally? No.
He seemed upset.
Often stood near the confessional.
I hoped he'd come in, but you can't make someone confess.
You wanna bet? Uh, he ever speak to any of the other parishioners? I don't know.
He always sat by himself.
I hope you find his wife and baby.
So do we.
Thanks, Father.
Have you seen this young man in this church here? I've seen him here a lot.
You talk to him? No.
He was quiet.
He shined his light to God.
He lit candles? Lit them.
Prayed.
Two candles.
Every time, two candles? Every day.
A God-fearing man showing his respect.
Thank you, very much.
He was looking for a way out of hell.
Hmm.
What are you talking about? Your son's been arrested, Mr.
Beltran, and he's not talking.
All the lawyer's willing to admit is that Jimmy says the last person who saw Kyle was Amy.
That's not possible.
She told me he was fine.
Who told you? Amy.
Not two weeks ago.
Where did you see her? I didn't.
She called looking for Jim.
He was out.
I told her we wanted to see our grandson.
She said, "Don't worry about it.
He's fine.
" Where was she calling from? I don't know.
She didn't leave a number.
Do you know the exact day the call was? Wednesday.
Tuesday, maybe.
Listen, my son didn't hurt nobody.
Your son has a temper.
Amy had a mouth.
Yeah, why don't you try and find her? Do you have any idea where she is? Maybe her parents? They live upstate.
We don't know exactly where.
We never met them.
They didn't show up for the wedding? Jimmy and Amy eloped.
Amy couldn't tell her parents about the pregnancy.
ED: Do you know if she had a job? She used to work part-time at a video store before Kyle was born.
DAUBER: Amy was part-time help.
BRISCOE: Have you seen her lately? No.
Is her address on that? No, that's their apartment.
Anything more recent? Nothing later, huh? Nothing.
Why'd she quit? Her husband didn't want her to work once the baby was born.
But I think she liked it here.
ED: What makes you say that? She had a friend.
She used all her breaks to chat up this kid from Gayley's Coffee House next door, cop a cigarette.
A cigarette? Wasn't she pregnant? Yeah.
Told me she was trying to quit.
You know this kid's name? No.
But you can't miss him.
He's the only one with earrings in more places than you can put holes.
I don't know where she is.
Why don't you ask her husband? They split up.
Well, no surprise there.
Oh, really? Yeah, he'd yell at her for being immature.
Said she couldn't handle herself, let alone a baby.
You two sound pretty close.
You part of the reason why she left her husband? No, man.
I got a girlfriend in Philly I see every weekend.
I sure as hell don't need Amy's husband showing up with a baby looking for her.
Jimmy has the baby? Yeah.
That's what she told me.
He kicked her out, took the kid.
So you've talked to her in the last six weeks? No.
Kyle and Amy Beltran have been missing for six or seven weeks, so you had to have talked to her after Jimmy took the baby and threw her out.
She showed up one day a while back for a coffee.
I didn't mark it on my calendar.
She tell you where she was staying? No.
You haven't talked to her since then? No.
You know, if you're a part of this and there's something wrong with Amy or the baby, you're an accessory, Mitch.
You can go to jail.
Look, I don't know anything.
Okay? Yeah, okay.
Find out where he lives.
And if he's got company.
ED: How many of these you done? Stake-outs? No.
Dead babies.
Hey, we don't know the baby's dead.
Right.
To answer your question, too many.
It's my first.
That's too many.
Here.
At least we know he has a hobby.
And a place to enjoy it.
Hey, look at this.
Tampons.
Pretty big for Q-tips.
You guys are harassing me.
(CHUCKLES) Not yet.
Is Amy Beltran here? No, man.
I told you.
Yeah, but we got miffed when it wasn't true.
What are these for? To hang on the Christmas tree? My sister's staying here.
Your sister? I'd love to meet her.
Hey, you guys got a warrant? 'Cause we're done.
Did you just hear a baby cry? Clear as day.
What baby? There's no baby here.
Exigent circumstances.
Where's your baby? He's with Jimmy.
AMY: Jimmy has Kyle.
He says you do.
He took my baby I don't know where.
If you don't know where, why'd you call his parents' home asking for him? I figured Jimmy would go there.
With your baby? The baby his parents said you had? Yes.
I don't know.
Why would Jimmy say you had your son? I don't know, he was angry.
What happened between you and Jimmy? We just didn't get along, is all.
What about the blood in the apartment? I don't know.
I just left.
Why'd you tell Jimmy's father Kyle was fine? I thought he was.
I always thought he was.
She was worried.
VAN BUREN: What was she worried about? How her life was gonna change.
Change how? Her free time.
Her relationship with Jimmy.
She said she'd feel trapped being with a baby all day.
What about after the baby was born? Mr.
Palichek, I really don't have patience for this.
She left it sometimes.
Left the baby alone? Sometimes, when the baby was taking a nap, she'd slip out.
Grab a cup of coffee or a smoke with me.
It wasn't more than a half hour, 45 minutes.
Did Amy ever tell you how she felt about the baby? She said it was hard.
Confusing.
Did you ever see her with Kyle? I went to her place once.
The baby was in the crib.
He was crying.
And what happened? Nothing.
She turned up the volume on the TV.
VAN BUREN: Palichek said Amy came on to him.
He passed.
He also said the baby cried for over an hour while he was with her in her apartment.
Looks like we might have two negligent parents.
But what we don't have is a baby.
Well, the LUDs from Palichek's apartment confirm Amy Beltran called Jimmy's parents' home three times in five weeks.
So, once she talks to the old man.
The other two times she must have talked to Jimmy.
What was she looking for? Get a search warrant for the Beltran house, inside and out.
Hey, Ed.
Dig it up.
OFFICER: Right.
We didn't know.
I swear on the Virgin Mary, we didn't know.
BRISCOE: It's never a happy ending.
ED: We found blood in the apartment.
RODGERS: I don't know yet whose it is.
Haven't done the autopsy.
BRISCOE: Cause of death? At first glance, it looks like the baby was more than likely put in the bag and buried alive.
Looks like skin and bones.
(SIGHS) What did he die of? Hard to tell.
Asphyxiation.
Dehydration.
Exposure.
I won't know until I do the autopsy.
How long can a baby live like that? The Mexican earthquake, babies survived nine days buried alive.
Arrest the son of a bitch.
The arraignment judge denied bail.
Beltran's lawyer is appealing.
He's lucky we didn't charge murder one.
You think he relished the torture of this child? Maybe not.
But I wonder if he could hear it screaming under the earth.
Where was the mother in all this? Beltran talked her into letting him take the baby when they split up.
She claims she called him at the in-laws a few times, but that he refused to let her see the baby.
Would you have taken no for an answer? You think she's lying? Find out exactly when the baby died.
The bag the baby was placed in was filled with sawdust and plaster.
Only, I didn't find anything in either the baby's lungs or nasal cavities.
The baby was dead before it was placed inside the bag? Thank God.
See here? Fraying at the ends of the bone.
That's a textbook indication of severe vitamin deficiency.
How long does that take? Not overnight.
This baby starved to death, probably over several weeks.
Was it something the parents could have missed? I don't see how.
Was there any other signs of physical abuse? Any fractures? Bruising? No, there's no indication of that.
But I did find some blood on the baby.
The blood was on the baby's hand and forehead.
But it wasn't his.
Forensics matched it to the blood found in the bathroom at your apartment.
It was my blood.
I cut myself on the crib.
But the baby was okay.
The receiving blanket he was swaddled in wasn't disturbed, and the blood on his face wasn't smudged.
I don't understand.
Your daughter bled on her child after he was already dead.
Amy? JACK: What happened to your baby? Tell them what happened.
And you tell them right now.
No! She's not telling them anything.
Our daughter wants a lawyer before she says anything else.
We're not arresting her? She's staying with her parents at a hotel.
I'll have the cops make sure no one checks out.
I want to talk to the baby's father.
Okay.
Why would my client tell you people anything? You've accused him of burying his son alive.
We now know that's not true.
At this point, we're not sure how your son died.
What's happening with Amy? You wife has asked for an attorney.
You arrested her? Should we arrest her? If I tell what happened, how do I know you'd believe me? You can take a lie detector test.
It's not admissible.
The results wouldn't be any help to us at trial.
JACK: We're not talking about a trial.
Our office uses polygraphs to eliminate suspects all the time.
CARMICHAEL: The polygraph indicates he's telling the truth.
A six-week-old baby starves to death in plain view of his parents, it's no accident.
How about the hospital record? Full-term pregnancy.
Birth weight within normal range.
He was fine at the hospital.
He was fine until he came home.
Mother and baby were discharged 24 hours after the birth.
One day? That's all they paid for.
But she was already nursing the baby? In the beginning, it's just colostrum.
It's like a pre-milk.
Excuse me.
It has a lot of the mother's antibodies that the baby needs, but the actual breast milk comes in a few days later.
And what if it doesn't? What then? Well, nature usually makes sure that it does.
But in any case, she would have seen the hospital's lactation counselor before her discharge.
I saw Amy Beltran twice.
The day that she was discharged, then three days later as a walk-in.
A walk-in? Her husband, I think, had called and said that they were having some trouble, so I had her come in.
What sort of trouble? Do you have any children, Miss Carmichael? No.
Well, breastfeeding isn't as easy as it sounds.
It takes a lot of patience.
Let me just say that Amy was not one of the most receptive clients that I've worked with.
Why do you say that? It's not unusual for a first-time mother to have difficulty, but Amy got frustrated pretty easily.
Plus, she didn't have a lot of help at home.
First-time fathers know even less than the mothers.
So why not have her just give the baby a bottle? No, breast milk is what's best for the baby.
It's just a matter of getting the mother to put the effort into it.
Were you satisfied Amy Beltran knew what she was doing? Well, you'd always like to see them come back, so that's why I called.
You talked to her after the visit? Yes.
And she said that everything with the baby was fine.
The lactation counselor says Amy was shown the right techniques to breastfeed, and the baby's sucking reflex was fine.
She just resented putting in the effort.
(GROANS) Sounds like she resented her baby.
It wasn't just her, Adam.
The police found unopened bottles and cans of formula in their apartment.
Either one of those parents could have fed that kid.
Well, then we try them both.
We have no grounds to oppose severance.
If they get separate trials, he points the finger at her, she points the finger at him.
Reasonable doubt.
What do we do, Counselor? For now, nothing.
We build our case.
He's already under indictment.
We know where to find her.
There's no statute of limitations on murder.
Yeah.
The law has patience.
TV cameras don't.
Then let's go after her.
She's the one who decided to have the baby.
Which means what? The father bears no responsibility for the child? I'm not saying that.
But women have fought to control their reproductive rights, and with those rights comes a greater responsibility.
Politically correct or not, the mother was this child's primary caregiver.
Forget whether or not we can convict her alone.
Should we? And I'm not asking you as a lawyer.
Yes.
I think it's the right thing to do.
Even if it means we have to make a deal with the husband? Yes.
Then you should try the case.
I can see the feminist fusillade in the op-eds.
Why? The case was assigned to Judge Rebecca Steinman.
A woman will be presiding over Amy Beltran's trial, a woman will be prosecuting her, and you can bet a woman will be defending her.
Well, I guess there's nothing left for us to do, but to take our cigars and brandy and retire to the smoking room.
I won't testify against Amy.
Criminal negligence.
He serves a year.
Ask your lawyer if that's a good deal on a homicide, Mr.
Beltran.
It wasn't like that.
How was it, then? Off the record? She was too young to have a kid.
People younger than your wife have babies all the time, but they don't starve them to death.
You don't know Amy But you do.
I admire your devotion to your wife, Mr.
Beltran.
But your son is dead because of a lack of any to him.
Don't you think that you owe it to Kyle to stand up for him now? (SIGHS) Amy Beltran, you're under arrest for the murder of your son.
No! It wasn't her fault.
Please.
I didn't kill my baby! I didn't! Please, don't make this any harder than it has to be.
ED: You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can TYRELL: They're charging a woman who was breastfeeding her child with starving it to death? Judge, this is ridiculous.
Haven't these people ever heard of the word "intent"? There was nothing unintentional about this baby's death.
TYRELL: She was a loving mother who had trouble nursing her child.
Your client neglected advice.
She ignored all the warning signs.
Given her conduct, this baby's death was a certainty.
And this comes from who? Dad? I'm sorry, Miss Tyrell, but whether or not your client's conduct was an accident, is a matter for trial.
Your motion to dismiss is denied.
We pick a jury tomorrow.
How many of you are parents? So, most of you have changed a diaper, woken up in the middle of the night at the sound of a cry or a cough.
Is that right, Mrs.
Chazin? Many times.
Because it was important to you, as part of your role as a parent, to be aware of your child, especially when they're young.
Yes, of course.
You're going to hear testimony that a baby starved to death, starved to death in the arms of his mother.
Mrs.
Chazin, can I have your promise that you will remember your experience as a parent when you consider whether or not this could have been an accident? Yes.
May I have that promise from all of you? Thank you.
We want you to remember, too, Mrs.
Chazin.
We want you to remember that first night, when you brought your baby home.
Were you nervous? Very.
Why? Because I didn't know what to do.
Or what to expect? I guess.
That, too.
What about you, Mr.
Carouso? I saw your hand go up before.
Were you scared, sir? Oh With our first, uh, my wife wouldn't even put the baby down long enough to get dressed.
We want you to remember that, Mr.
Carouso, as you sit in judgment of these autopsy photographs.
Objection.
Overruled.
We want you to remember that as you sit in judgment of Amy Beltran.
Can you all promise to do that as well? My God.
Sidebar, Your Honor? Step up.
Obviously, I'm going to have to challenge everyone in that box.
The People oppose.
Did you see their faces, Counselor? Judge, if defense counsel intends to continue showing the autopsy photos, can we at least conduct the questioning individually in chambers so we don't poison the whole panel? Sorry, I just think she did it.
You understand you haven't heard any testimony yet.
Come on, Judge, look at this.
She had to know.
Challenge, Your Honor.
You're excused, sir.
How many more jurors do we have left? That's the last of them, Judge.
Your Honor, it is not my fault defense counsel chose to show those photographs during voir dire.
What did you expect me to do? Wait until your closing argument? Miss Tyrell is right.
She can't spend the trial running from these photographs.
But there is another option.
A bench trial? She waived a jury.
Now we have a judge deciding the guilt of this defendant? Judge Steinman was the one who suggested it.
I need to go rewrite my opening.
Did the judge wink? I don't think Steinman would go through a whole day ofjury selection if she's already made up her mind.
Makes me nervous.
(GRUNTS) Steinman held 34 bench trials last year.
Twenty-six acquittals.
So much for the power of an autopsy photograph.
Read these lately? We're catching flak for going after this woman.
Abbie knows what she's doing.
What I keep telling myself.
RODGERS: It's called failure to thrive.
It refers to a baby's failure to achieve certain physical milestones on a predetermined timeline.
And upon autopsy, did Kyle Beltran exhibit any indications that he'd suffered from failure to thrive? Yes.
There was virtually no fatty tissue anywhere on the child.
His bones were clubbed and frayed, indicating a severe vitamin deficiency.
He also tested positive for osteoid.
There's no question Kyle Beltran's death resulted from starvation? None.
The baby's length was within normal parameters wasn't it, Doctor? In fact, it was in the 85th percentile for length at six weeks, isn't that correct? Yes.
And a long baby can sometimes seem bigger than it really is? It might.
Babies also often lose weight when they come home from the hospital, don't they? It's not unusual.
But those mothers aren't starving their children to death, are they, Doctor? No.
But one would expect a weight gain to commence within a short time.
How short a time? It depends on the baby.
What you're saying then, Doctor, is that the when part isn't so definite? Yes.
So my client, being a new mother, might simply have made a mistake.
Objection.
Sustained.
Doctor, have you ever come across a death attributed to failure to thrive where the infant was under the care of a pediatrician? I have.
Nothing further.
Any redirect? Doctor Rodgers, in the last days of Kyle Beltran's life, what would the defendant have seen with respect to her baby? Your Honor, is this necessary? I think it is for me.
The child's skin would have sagged, and he would have developed a yellowish tint from the vitamin deficiency.
His eyes would have a sunken effect, and he would also have an aged appearance.
What about urine and stool output? Non-existent.
His diapers would be dry.
Crying? Constant, I'd imagine.
But without tears.
We just weren't ready for a baby, for how difficult it is.
Kyle was always crying.
Amy wasn't getting any sleep.
She didn't have anyone to talk to, any help.
What about the lactation counselor? She went once.
She wouldn't go back.
Why? She said she didn't have to.
She said she took Kyle to a clinic, and they told her everything was fine.
What eventually happened to your baby, Mr.
Beltran? I came home one night, and I didn't hear anything, you know? Not crying or anything.
And where was Amy? She was sitting on the couch, smoking a cigarette.
What did you do? I asked her if Kyle was asleep.
She didn't answer, so I went inside to look.
Kyle was in his crib Dead.
Then what happened? I guess she must have followed me into the room, so I just asked her again what happened.
When she didn't answer again, I slapped her.
She started bleeding.
And then? Then, she went into the bathroom, and that's when I heard the glass break.
She slammed the medicine cabinet door.
Did she say why? Mr.
Beltran, did your wife tell you why she smashed that mirror? She said she killed our baby.
Nothing further.
Amy never wanted that baby, did she? You were the one who insisted that she have it, weren't you? Yes.
Only, once she did, you were never around.
Amy was the one getting up in the middle of the night, right? I was working.
Working? You mean you were too busy to feed your own child? That's not what I said.
When you came home and found your baby dead, did you call the police? No.
No.
Instead, you wrapped your child in a blanket, and then you stuck it in your tool bag.
Is that right? I didn't want anything to happen to Amy.
Oh, is that why you're here testifying? Objection.
JUDGE: Sustained.
The medical examiner has said that anyone looking at your baby, could see that it was in trouble.
Could you? I called that counselor.
And did you follow up? Amy said everything was fine.
But you knew that it wasn't, didn't you? There was formula in that apartment, there were bottles.
Ever think to feed your son, Mr.
Beltran? Amy said we weren't supposed to.
Ever think to bring your son to a doctor? Amy did.
But did you? No.
But she's the one on trial.
No more questions.
You saw Amy Beltran twice, is that right? STRICKLAND: Yes.
Once at the hospital and once as a walk-in to our clinic.
And you demonstrated the proper techniques to breastfeed? Absolutely.
And she was able to breastfeed in your presence? Yes.
Her milk production seemed fine.
And you spoke with her a third time? She was supposed to come into the clinic for another appointment.
When she didn't, I called her.
She told me everything was all right.
And this was about three weeks after her visit with you? Maybe a week before the baby died? Yes.
Thank you.
Amy Beltran came to you because she was having problems, isn't that right? She seemed unsure of herself.
But you told her that women had been doing this for generations.
That it was a normal process.
Correct? Of course.
So if she was failing, it was her fault.
If she was putting in the effort, there's no question she would have been successful.
You told Amy not to give her baby any bottles or formula, didn't you? A bottle is easier for a baby to suck.
Once it has the bottle, it may refuse to latch onto the mother's breast.
Because breast milk is best for the baby, we encourage women to stick with the breast only.
Yes, but you do more than encourage, don't you? I don't know what you mean.
You told Amy Beltran that bottle feeding her baby could cause nipple confusion.
That her baby might not then ever take to her breast.
Isn't that what you said to her? I use whatever methods I can to insure that the baby gets breast milk.
Yeah, and those methods often include threats and intimidation, don't they? That's your interpretation.
No, ma'am.
That was my client's interpretation.
Objection.
Sustained.
Breastfeeding is almost a crusade with you, Miss Strickland, isn't it? That's not true.
You lecture on the benefits of breast milk.
You have written articles on the subject, haven't you? That's far from a crusade.
Not that far, when you insist that a mother breastfeed her child exclusively, when it's obvious that a baby is in trouble.
You make it sound like breastfeeding is an unnatural process.
Formula is what's unnatural.
Children have difficulty digesting it, and it doesn't contain the same antibodies or immunities.
But babies don't starve to death on it, do they? The judge hated her.
If Tyrell hasn't made out reasonable doubt, she's coming pretty close.
Strickland's testimony doesn't relieve Amy of her responsibility.
Maybe not, but it helps explain her conduct.
You thinking of making her an offer? If I do that, it'll look like I'm worried.
You already look worried.
I don't know what the next move is.
What if I make the offer? That way, you can keep the hard line.
Besides, it's been a while since I played good cop.
Man one.
She serves the max.
Eight-and-a-third to 25.
You're joking.
Do you see anyone around here smiling? There was a father here, too.
And a lactation counselor.
Any number of people were responsible for the death of that child.
Why is it just the mother you want your pound of flesh from? Because, ultimately, she is the one that failed that baby.
Criminal negligence.
She serves a year, same as Jimmy.
Like you said, Jimmy's not the one on trial here.
Man one.
I don't think so.
Come on.
(DOOR CLOSES) Well, we gave her a chance.
Yeah.
Only one thing to do now.
Stick the dagger in.
From the very beginning, Kyle was having problems.
He wasn't doing like they showed me at the hospital.
And there's, like, no way to tell if he's getting anything, you know? Why not give him the formula? I signed a contract.
A contract? At the hospital, I promised I would only breastfeed.
Miss Strickland said that breast milk was best for Kyle.
She made it sound like giving him a bottle might be dangerous.
Well, what did you do? I took Kyle to a Medicaid clinic.
The nurse said that he was normal size and everything.
But she told me I couldn't see a doctor.
I didn't have my Medicaid card yet.
She told me that I should come back in about three weeks.
But by then Miss Strickland says that you came to see her, too.
Yes.
And what happened at that visit? She started in again about breast milk being best for Kyle, and if there was a problem, it was because I wasn't trying hard enough.
Miss Strickland has also testified that, sometime afterward, she called you, and you told her everything was fine.
She made it seem like it was my fault, you know? Like I was a bad mother.
I just I wasn't going to go through that again.
Tell us about the night that Kyle died.
That last day, he got real quiet.
I thought maybe he was getting better.
I went in to check on him, and his little hands, they were so cold.
I I got a blanket to wrap him, and, uh, that's when I realized he wasn't breathing.
What did you do? (CRYING) There was nothing I could do.
I was just so scared, and Jimmy was so angry.
He told me he never wanted to see me again.
He slapped me.
And he said that we had to get rid of him, rid of Kyle.
Why? Because we didn't have money for lawyers.
He said that we'd get in a lot of trouble.
He said he'd take Kyle to his parents' house.
Amy, did you intend for your baby to die? No.
No, I swear.
Okay.
You moved in with Mitch Palichek the night Jimmy left, didn't you? I couldn't stay in the apartment.
We heard testimony from Mitch Palichek that when you woke up the next morning, it was the first night's sleep you had in several months.
Is that true? It was.
So you were pretty happy about not having a baby to take care of anymore.
That isn't true.
Because now you could smoke and sleep and do all the things you couldn't when you were a mother.
It wasn't like that.
Mitch Palichek testified that you told him you wished you hadn't ever gotten pregnant.
That's the way I I felt before he was born.
But you continued to feel that way even after you had him, didn't you? No.
That's the way you felt even as you watched him starve to death.
Objection.
No.
Even as you watched your husband put his tiny, lifeless body into that bag.
TYRELL: Your Honor? JUDGE: Overruled.
I tried! Is that why you turned up the volume on the television when you heard your baby cry? Because you were trying? I needed help.
You had help! I didn't! The hospital gave you formula, but you didn't use it.
I told you why.
Even when you were turned away from the clinic, you didn't seek any other medical help, did you? The nurse said he was okay.
But you were his mother.
They said he was okay.
But you knew he wasn't, didn't you? You just wanted your baby dead.
I didn't know what to do.
I swear, I didn't know! (SOBBING) TYRELL: Hand pumps, electric pumps, bottles, formula, nipple confusion.
Imagine how frightening it must have been for a young woman to have that kind of responsibility, Your Honor.
Her husband at work all the time.
No family around to help her, to teach her.
She was isolated.
And the few people she did reach out to, only made her feel more inadequate as a mother than she already did.
Amy Beltran failed her child.
She doesn't need this court to tell her that.
Only a woman can know the social pressure to breastfeed today.
And only a woman can suffer the stigma of that failure.
Amy Beltran will live with it for the rest of her life.
But her failure as a mother, as tragic as it is, is not criminal.
There is nothing confusing about those autopsy photographs.
They're a picture of what this defendant says she could not see, and they are not the picture of an accident.
It's hard to fathom a woman letting her child starve to death before her eyes.
But that is exactly what Amy Beltran did.
Her lawyer suggests that others are to blame.
But are we really at a point where even feeding our babies has become someone else's responsibility? Whether she was or wasn't too young to be a mother, the same law that protects her right to make that choice, demands that she be ready to be one once it's born.
Instead, this mother, who gave her child life, chose to take it.
And that was not her choice to make.
In a way, I think more than one person should be standing before this court today.
Certainly a father and advocates who dispense advice in the form of intimidation.
Even medical personnel who are more interested in payment than patients.
But ultimately, the responsibility for a child must be placed on the primary caregiver.
And even today, that still means its mother.
Miss Beltran, your depraved indifference to the warning signs you had to have seen in your child, is only vitiated by your attempts to seek help.
It is not excused.
I therefore find you guilty of manslaughter in the second degree for recklessly causing the death of your baby.
(GAVEL POUNDS) (WHISPERING) CARMICHAEL: Judge Steinman gave Amy Beltran one and a half to four and a half years in prison.
With one year for Jimmy Beltran.
That's less than three years between the both of them.
Talk about a throwaway child.
I'm not happy about this.
You tried the case you had.
But I chose the case.
Tomorrow is another day, Abbie.