LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A former Lancaster woman was sentenced to 5.5 to 20 years in state prison on Tuesday, May 23, after being convicted for her role in the death of her baby, the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office says.
The DA’s office says 46-year-old Tara Brazzle, who now lives in Indiana, submitted an “Alford plea,” which acknowledged that the prosecution had enough evidence to convict her of third-degree murder without directly admitting to the crime itself. Alford pleas are treated the same as convictions, according to the DA.
Baby Mary Anne was found dead on Sept. 24, 2007, in a dumpster at a former YMCA location where Brazzle worked at the time, according to a release from the district attorney. Baby Mary Anne was at approximately 36 weeks gestation and was born alive, but died due to asphyxia, the DA says.
“While there is a triable issue as to the specific manner in how the baby was asphyxiated, the defendant agrees that the Commonwealth at trial would present sufficient evidence upon which a jury could convict her of, at least, third-degree murder,” First Assistant District Attorney Todd Brown said.
Investigators looked for DNA matches to find the child’s mother and conducted interviews, but the case went cold for several years.
The investigation was taken over by Sergeant Randell Zook in 2016 when new DNA testing techniques became available. In November 2018 it was found that Brazzle was the baby’s mother when the child’s DNA was entered into a genealogy database, the DA’s office says.
According to the district attorney’s office, in July 2021 Brazzle admitted to giving birth to the baby at her Lancaster County home and that she did not seek any prenatal care or medical care after the birth before leaving the baby in the YMCA dumpster days later.
“Specifically, at minimum, the conduct of the defendant secreting both the pregnancy and delivery of the baby and not seeking any medical attention or assistance and ultimately disposing of the baby in the manner she did provides a basis upon which a malicious killing could be found,” Brown added.
Initially, Brazzle was not arrested, but when investigators found out she took a flight to California the morning after speaking with police, an arrest warrant was issued and the San Jose Police Department arrested her at the airport when she landed.
Brazzle was ordered to pay $4,846.62 for costs including DNA laboratory fees.