She very nearly didn’t speak before her sentencing, but Brittany Taylor made a very short statement through sobs and tears before being sentenced to four years, 10 months in prison. Her newborn daughter was found dead in the brush in Ocean Shores in April, and Taylor pleaded guilty to first-degree abandonment of a dependent person.
“I would give anything, do anything, to be able to go back and change things,” Taylor said.
She told Judge Mark McCauley the events in an Ocean Shores hotel room, where she gave birth to the baby girl with the help of her boyfriend, Patrick Parnel, represent the worst moments in her life.
“She had every opportunity to do the right thing,” Chief Deputy Prosecutor Gerald Fuller said. “And in the end, as nearly as I can tell, this is how it was going to be because she didn’t want the child, her boyfriend didn’t want the child.”
Taylor, 21, of Humptulips, had her attorney, Harold Karlsvik, read a letter she wrote talking about her remorse in Grays Harbor Superior Court. “I think once they got to the hotel room it all hit her at once probably, and she did ask Mr. Parnel to take her to the hospital, but that didn’t happen,” Karlsvik said, noting in his court filings the couple were on their way to an Olympia hospital when they realized Taylor was too far along in her labor to make it.
They returned to the hotel room, where Karlsvik said, “Mr. Parnel, who had taught himself on the Internet how to deliver a child, did deliver the child.”
Taylor has said she believed the child was stillborn, and did not appear to be breathing or making sounds before she told Parnel to “get rid of it.”
“…(S)he meant that he should take care of things because she was in such pain that she could not think clearly and could not handle the situation,” Karlsvik wrote in his sentencing statement.
Fuller said she had told friends she was pregnant and neither she nor Parnel wanted the child well before she gave birth. An autopsy showed the girl was born alive, despite Taylor’s belief she was not breathing.
“That was not the case at all. Looking at this, I don’t see any reason to believe that child was not born alive and kicking and crying,” Fuller said. “She tried to convince herself that the child was not born alive and tried to ignore the consequences of her actions and those of Patrick Parnel.”
“I just didn’t intend for anything like this to happen,” Taylor said Monday. “I honestly didn’t know that she was alive, and if I would have, nothing like that would have happened.”
“You obviously knew you were pregnant for a long time, and I think the natural instinct and common sense is to take care of your child before it’s born,” McCauley told Taylor. According to her attorney’s court filings, Taylor said she sought no prenatal care and “was drinking heavily and using marijuana daily during her pregnancy.”
“I just don’t think I or anyone else in society that’s a good thinking person can understand this,” McCauley said.
Parnel, 22, also of Humptulips, is charged with first-degree murder in his child’s death. After he left the hotel room with the baby, prosecutors allege he hit the girl in the head with a tire iron before leaving her in the bushes, where a jogger found her the next morning. An autopsy of the girl found her cause of death was blunt force injury. Taylor had no prior criminal history, making her standard sentencing range for the charge two years, seven months to three years, five months. The sentence was beyond the standard because the child was considered particularly vulnerable, an aggravating factor.
Asked after the hearing why Taylor was not charged with something more severe or more closely related to Parnel’s charge, Fuller said, “I charged her with what I thought we could prove under the facts.”
Taylor requested a drug offender sentencing alternative to seek treatment for her addictions. McCauley imposed the full sentence, but recommended she seek treatment on her own.
“You need to take advantage of the things they offer you in prison so when you get out you can live a life — a long life — that obviously this young child never had a chance to live,” he said.
Parnel is held in Grays Harbor County Jail on $1 million bail. His trial is set for Nov. 13.