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Autopsy Finds Baby in Trash Bin Was Born Alive

November 22, 1996

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ A baby found dead in a trash bin was born healthy, a medical examiner’s spokeswoman said today. The attorney for a teen-ager charged with murdering the newborn had suggested the infant was stillborn.

``The autopsy showed it was a full-term, healthy baby boy. That means it was born alive after a full term, nine-month pregnancy″ with no birth defects, said Alexis Andrianopoulos, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Social Services.

Even before Brian Peterson Jr. surrendered Thursday to face charges that he murdered a newborn baby boy he had helped his girlfriend deliver, his attorney, Joseph A. Hurley, said the question of whether the infant was born alive could figure in his defense.

Hurley said he may seek an independent autopsy. He also began suggesting Wednesday that the mother, Amy Grossberg, did not seek counseling or medical help because she was terrified her mother would find out she was pregnant, the Daily News of New York reported.

Hurley did not respond to repeated questions Thursday about a motive before all attorneys in the case were put under a gag order by Superior Court President Judge Henry duPont Ridgely.

Peterson and Ms. Grossberg have separate legal counsel and both plan to plead innocent. Authorities will conduct blood tests to confirm that they are the baby’s parents.

The medical examiner’s office has ruled the death a homicide, saying the newborn died from blunt trauma to the head and shaking.

Peterson, who waited five days before surrendering, broke down and cried when he finally reached FBI offices Thursday.

His mother, Barbara, sobbed uncontrollably, wrapping her arms around the college freshman and burying her face in his shoulder as the family pushed through a sea of cameras and microphones into the building Thursday.

Peterson, wearing a baseball cap and jeans, wept as he comforted his mother, telling her it would be all right, Hurley said.

``How can I give my only boy to the state to die?″ Peterson’s mother told Hurley.

Peterson and Ms. Grossberg, both 18, could face the death penalty if convicted _ a prospect that made his parents consider sending him abroad. Ms. Grossberg was arrested Monday.

Both are charged with first-degree murder and are being held without bail.

At his five-minute bail hearing Thursday afternoon, Peterson’s only comment was to respond softly ``Yes″ to identify himself. He whispered ``Thank You″ to Hurley and touched his sleeve as he was led from the courtroom.

The teen-agers, from affluent neighborhoods in northern New Jersey, had just started college, he at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and she at the University of Delaware.

Neither has explained what happened last week in a Newark motel room where Ms. Grossberg gave birth. The baby boy was wrapped in a plastic bag and thrown in a trash bin outside the motel, police said.

The autopsy found the boy died of a skull fracture, but investigators don’t know if the injury happened before or after the baby was put in the trash.

``There was no murder,″ Hurley said, adding that the case was more complicated than prosecutors described. He would not elaborate.

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