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Beecroft sentencing delayed until August
Sentencing for Nicole Beecroft has been moved a second time and is now scheduled for Friday, Aug. 29 in Washington County Court. Washington County Judge John Hoffman convicted Beecroft, 24, of Oakdale of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of her newborn daughter in September 2013.
“I apologize. We have had some complications as to if we can proceed with sentencing today,” Hoffman said at the scheduled sentencing Monday, May 14.
Beecroft’s defense team announced a new expert over the weekend, who will compile a report on neonaticide -- the act of killing an infant within 24 hours of birth -- and may speak on Beecroft’s behalf in August.
The expert is Dr. Diana Lynn Barnes, a well-known psychotherapist from California who often consults with defense lawyers on cases of infanticide, pregnancy denial, neonaticide and child abuse.
“In order to be fair we need a chance to respond. The defense has a right to call on her to give a statement on [Beecroft’s] behalf,” Assistant Washington County Attorney Siv Yurichuk said.
Judge Hoffman set a deadline of July 31 to announce any new witnesses, and an Aug. 22 deadline for any tangible reports.
Defense attorney Luke Stellpflug said Barnes’ report on neonaticide would be “nothing controversial,” but simply a detailed report on what neonaticide is.
“This is about mitigation. The court should consider these issues for sentencing,” he said.
Because of Beecroft’s clean criminal background, the sentencing guidelines call for a maximum of 30 years in prison.
“The defense is arguing for a downward departure in sentencing, and we are arguing for an upward departure,” Yurichuk said.
Washington County’s attorney’s office has requested a longer prison term, citing aggravating factors, including the vulnerability of the newborn and that the baby was treated with “particular cruelty.”
Beecroft, who was 17 and a senior at Tartan High School, kept her pregnancy a secret, and gave birth in the laundry room of her family home. She stabbed her newborn baby over 100 times, however, medical examiners for the defense said that all evidence pointed toward a stillbirth.
At her first trial she was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed that conviction in 2012, citing prosecutors tried to intimidate forensics pathologists from testifying on Beecroft’s behalf.
Joshua Nielsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-748-7822.