Brittany N. Taylor, 21, and Patrick L. Parnel, 22, both of Humptulips, were charged Monday with first degree assault and first degree manslaughter in the death of their newborn daughter, found in a wooded area near the Ocean Shores airport last Friday. The class A felonies carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The two made their first court appearance Monday and bail was set at $250,000 each by Grays Harbor District Court Judge Tom Copland who also assigned a criminal defense attorney for each of them. The case is expected to be moved to Superior Court eventually.
Appearing in orange jail jumpsuits, both shed tears as friends and family watched the proceedings.
“He wasn’t raised that way,” said Parnel’s father, Patrick James Parnel, who made an emotional plea to Copland, saying he would make sure Parnel would obey the orders if he made bail.
County Prosecutor Steward Menefee asked the bail to be set at $250,000, citing the reckless nature of the crime as evidence that they would have no ethical qualms about trying to run from the charges.
Preliminary results of the autopsy indicate the child was alive at the time of birth and for some time after, states an affidavit supporting the charges. Evidence of multiple skull fractures from severe blunt force trauma to the infant’s head was also found.
A resident of Ocean Shores discovered the infant while walking in the 200 block of Fisher Avenue NE in Ocean Shores. Following news accounts, law enforcement officers were led to Taylor through the assistance of staff at Quinault Beach Casino, where Taylor worked. They said she had called in sick during that time period and was having a baby she planned to put up for adoption, according to court documents.
They indicated that Taylor last worked on April 1, and called in on April 4 to say she had given birth to her child and would return to work the next week. They also informed police that she was believed to be dating another of their employees, Parnel, who had left work on April 1 and returned around 11 or 11:30 p.m. on Friday, April 5.
The first news accounts went out on The Daily World website and social media pages just before midnight on Friday. On Saturday police found the couple at Taylor’s residence, where she told them it was her first pregnancy, that she had been trying to keep it a secret and that Parnel was, in fact, the father. She told officers that on April 3 she began to feel like the baby was coming but didn’t want to go to a hospital so she and Parnel checked into the Oasis Motel in Ocean Shores, according to court documents. She told officers they hadn’t really had a discussion about what do do with the baby after it was born.
Both Taylor and Parnel said the child was born at the motel at around 1 a.m. on Thursday, April 4. Parnel assisted with the birth and used scissors to cut the umbilical chord as Taylor gave birth while sitting on the toilet.Taylor told officers that after the baby was born she thought it was dead because it wasn’t moving and she told Parnel to take care of it. Parnel told officers he slapped the child on its side, but it didn’t appear to be alive.
After that, according to court papers, he put the baby in a garbage can and Taylor told Parnel to dispose of it. They both said Parnel left the motel with the baby after she told him to get rid of it, and that she stayed at the motel. Parnel told officers he drove to an area near the airport, walked the baby out into the woods and covered it with some brush to conceal it. Parnel told officers he helped to deliver the baby, but had dropped it into the toilet as it was being delivered. He said he repositioned the baby into sitting position and cut the umbilical chord. He told officers that he caused the laceration on the baby’s head with the scissors and that it had bled profusely.
Though they both said they thought the baby was dead, there was no attempt made by either Taylor or Parnel to revive it through CPR or call for help.
Taylor said that when Parnel returned he didn’t tell her what he had done with the baby. She said she was feeling dizzy and they discussed whether she should go the hospital. She said she felt better the next day and they went for a walk on the beach and smoked marijuana before going back to her mother’s house. They they returned to the motel and watched TV the rest of Thursday night then returned home after a trip to the liquor store.
Taylor did tell officers she knew the child was viable prior to her birth because it had been kicking, “usually at night or in the mornings.”