Judge sentences Lexington’s mother to probation in Heath infant death case

Editor’s Note: This story is updated to reflect the judge’s failure to overturn Gillum’s conviction.

NEWARK – Kalina VE Gillum, 22, of Lexington, will not serve jail time for her baby’s death in 2019, despite a jury finding her guilty on three counts.

Licking County Common Pleas Judge David Branstool handed down the sentence on Thursday after hearing Gillum claim that she had suffered years of abuse at the hands of her boyfriend and co-accused Braden Mull, who had already received a one-year sentence in connection with the death. The jury did not hear the abuse allegations.

Gillum and Mull have been accused by investigators through court records of inducing labor while Gillum was in her third trimester to terminate her late pregnancy and failing to seek medical attention for the child, causing his death. Gillum was convicted of endangering children, tampering with evidence and abusing a dead body.

The judge sentenced Gillum to community monitoring surveillance for three years and 100 hours of community service. Branstool denied a motion for an acquittal, but said she could appeal the convictions.

“She has no history,” Branstool said. “She was in jail for four months. Her 4 year old child was taken from her. She was released on bail and did everything we expect someone to do. She has a job. She is in school. .

“And, frankly, the information about domestic violence was compelling to me. It’s not a defense. The jury hasn’t heard much about it. But it certainly puts a lot of this behavior into perspective.”

Branstool had previously acquitted Gillum of a manslaughter charge following an acquittal motion brought by the defense team on the basis of insufficient evidence. Mull pleaded guilty to one count of endangering children and abusing a dead body.

Gillum spoke for about six minutes, crying throughout, making it hard to hear his words at times. She spoke about the loss of a child and the abuse she suffered during her relationship with Mull.

“Like any mother who has lost a child, this will forever be the greatest loss, the void… you can imagine,” said Gillum. “Please realize how much of the story you have heard and how much is missing.

“Three years ago, I can’t tell you the kind of fear I lived in. As a woman of almost 21, I feel like I barely managed to survive to this day. of September. That fear turned into extreme trauma from the abuse I endured for years, from the age of 17 at the hands of my co-accused. “

She said she felt trapped and often wanted to give up.

“There are so many moments that my brain has blocked. My life is a big black hole, orchestrated and controlled by a man I thought I loved me. I let someone control my life in the smallest detail, right down to the ‘to my reproductive life During my pregnancy, I took a lot of hits.

“I love my boys, my son in Heaven and the one here on earth. There will always be a piece of my heart and my life that is forever missing. I wish that day had never come. to be able to see her smile, hear her laugh and see the color of her eyes, but I won’t, and that will always be the hardest thing. “

Defense lawyer Yveka Pierre said Gillum had suffered cruel and unfair characterizations throughout the nearly two-year court process.

“While we are relieved that our client is no longer incarcerated for a tragic pregnancy loss, we also wish to reiterate that the police, prosecutors and the courts do not have to be involved in the pregnancy outcome, period. final, ”said Pierre.

“The best way to improve public health and safety is not to punish people for the results of their pregnancy, but rather to provide support, compassion and resources to pregnant women.”

In oral argument at the trial, Licking County Assistant District Attorney Jenny Wells said the baby was born on September 19, 2019, but was unlucky to live because his mother breached a duty of care and had not called 911 for assistance.

Wells argued that Gillum waited nine hours to get to the hospital after losing a lot of blood and not being able to deliver the placenta. At the hospital, Wells said Gillum lied about the child’s whereabouts, telling them she didn’t know and hadn’t seen a baby.

Authorities learned of the baby’s whereabouts around 90 minutes later, Wells said. After responding to the couple’s apartment, Wells said police found the child’s body in a shoebox in a garbage bag.

Wells argued that a 7-year prison sentence was appropriate, including three years for endangering children, three years for tampering and one year for mistreating a corpse.

“She gave birth and left him lying on the bathroom floor; left him to die,” Wells said. “She put it in a shoebox and then tried to cover up her actions. She took no responsibility. She still continues to blame others for her actions. The jury listened to this and found her guilty. of these charges. “

Wells said the evidence in the case shows Gillum and Mull formulated the plan to terminate the pregnancy, which included an order from India and taking 12 tablets of misoprostol to induce labor and end the pregnancy during of her third trimester.

“Both made this decision and both are responsible for their actions,” Wells said. “He was not present (at the birth). He was not there. Whereas, Mrs. Gillum had that decision in her hands.”

Stephen Wolfe, the attorney representing Mull, said that after Mull’s conviction on May 28, he hoped his client, who had no criminal record, could be released in about a month. Mull remains in prison, but requested his judicial release on July 6, Wells said. Licking County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Marcelain will consider Mull’s claim.

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