Woman's abuse of corpse case heads to grand jury
04 Nov 2023 — Tribune Chronicle
Chris McBride

WARREN - A Warren mother accused of abuse of a corpse involving the handling of the miscarriage of her 22-week-old fetus will have her case heard by a Trumbull County grand jury following a Thursday hearing.

Brittany Watts, 33, of Tod Avenue NW, faces a single charge of abuse of corpse, a fifth-degree felony. During an arraignment in Warren Municipal Court earlier this month, Watts pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Warren Assistant Prosecutor Lewis Guarnieri said the police investigation found that Watts miscarried the baby while using the restroom and tried to plunge and flush the remains down the toilet, where it got stuck in the pipes.

Guarnieri said the toilet had to be removed by police and taken to the Trumbull County Coroner's Office. The fetus was about 22 weeks old when the incident took place on Sept. 22.

He argued in favor of having the case move forward, with which Warren Municipal Court Judge Terry Ivanchak agreed, determining there was probable cause for the case to be bound over to the grand jury.

Guarnieri said the state did not have to prove viability, citing a section of Ohio Revised Code 2927.01 that reads, "no person, except as authorized by law, shall treat a human corpse in a way that would outrage reasonable community sensibilities."

Defense attorney Tracy Timko represented Watts during the preliminary hearing. In a statement, Timko said her client "suffered a tragic and dangerous miscarriage that jeopardized her own life."

"Rather than focusing on healing physically and emotionally, she was arrested and charged with a felony and is fighting for her freedom and her reputation," Timko said. "Miss Watts learned days before this that a miscarriage was inevitable and that the fetus could not survive outside the womb due to gestational age. This fetus died in utero."

Timko argues that no law requires a mother suffering from a miscarriage of a non-viable fetus to bury or cremate the remains.

"Women miscarry into toilets everyday. If the state of Ohio expects these women to fish those remains from the toilet and deliver them to a hospital, funeral home or crematorium, the laws need changed," Timko said, adding that "we aren't there yet."

She further stated, "Regardless of politics or religion, this matter hinges on the law. It is a travesty that Miss Watts was charged and we will continue to fight."

This story is provided free courtesy of The Tribune Chronicle.
"Woman's abuse of corpse case heads to grand jury" Tribune Chronicle 04 Nov 2023: A3