Muskingum County Prosecutor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 17, 2023
Visiting judge gives convicted child murderer chance for parole with new sentence
A visiting judge from Cuyahoga County imposed a new sentence of life with the possibility of parole after 20 years for a college mother convicted of murdering her newborn baby after the Supreme Court of Ohio vacated Emile Weaver's life without parole sentence in December 2022.
“On April 22, 2015, Addison Grace Weaver was born. Addison’s mother, the defendant, watched Addison breathe, watched Addison moving, held Addison in her arms and decided to kill Addison,” Prosecutor Ron Welch said during Weaver’s resentencing hearing Thursday.
He explained that Weaver murdered her baby because she wanted to get rid of a problem. She did not want to have a baby, and she didn’t want to be judged for being pregnant.
“The defendant decided to stuff Addison in a trash pail, put her in a plastic garbage bag, tie the bag in a knot and leave it outside,” Welch continued. “The defendant’s actions were intentional. She wanted to keep her pregnancy a secret, and when Addison was born, the only way to keep the secret was to kill Addison and get rid of the evidence.”
In May 2016, jurors in Muskingum County convicted Weaver of aggravated murder, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Judge Mark Fleegle sentenced her to life without the possibility of parole.
In the years to follow, Weaver’s defense team filed several unsuccessful appeals until 2019 when the Fifth District Court of Appeals granted a post-conviction relief hearing to introduce mitigating sentencing factors not presented by the defense at trial to be considered for resentencing purposes.
During that hearing, State public defenders representing Weaver called Dr. Diana Barnes of Los Angeles as an expert witness on the topic of neonaticide and pregnancy denial.
Barnes explained the phenomenon she researches in which pregnant women dissociate from reality and negate their pregnancy. Barnes testified Weaver did not have a recognized diagnosis of dissociative disorder but instead fluctuated between a state of conscious and unconscious awareness. According to Barnes, this explained how Weaver both recognized she was pregnant and pretended not to be pregnant. Further Barnes testified that it is difficult for a woman to ever really know when she is pregnant without having testing done.
In preparation for that hearing in 2019, Barnes produced a report contending that Weaver experienced dissociation during her pregnancy, even though Weaver did not meet the criteria for dissociation on the scoring mechanism Barnes used to evaluate Weaver nor did Barnes conduct a structural clinical interview in order to be considered for dissociative disorder. Further Barnes reached her conclusion regarding Weaver’s dissociation without ever viewing the police interview of the defendant.
When Prosecutor Welch questioned Barnes on the matter in 2019, the researcher explained that Weaver didn’t have a dissociative disorder but rather a dissociative experience.
Judge Fleegle found the witness called by the defense to be biased, unpersuasive, and not credible before re-imposing the sentence of life without parole. In 2022, now retired Chief Justice Maureen O’ Connor was joined by Justices Michael Donnelly, Jennifer Brunner and Melody Stewart in an opinion which vacated the sentence by Judge Fleegle.
Judge Janet Burnside was then assigned to the case by O’ Connor.
On Thursday, Barnes was once again called as a witness by the State Public Defenders Office. Barnes again testified that Weaver never fully recognized herself as being pregnant and at the time Weaver killed Addison, Weaver was in a dissociative state where she did not recognize Addison as a baby and Weaver’s actions in killing Addison and cleaning up were out of Weaver’s control.
Despite Barnes’ belief that Weaver experienced dissociation during her pregnancy, the State pointed to the facts that contradict those explanations.
Weaver scheduled a visit to a abortion clinic prior to killing Addison, but never made the appointment due to the weather that day.
The day before giving birth to and then killing Addison, Weaver demanded that the suspected father tell his parents that she was pregnant or else she would.
Then after Weaver killed Addison, she texted the thought-to-be father “No more baby.”
In the texts to follow, Weaver explained that she went into labor and gave birth to a little girl with dark hair.
Further, she lied about Addison’s death, blaming it on birth complications.
Prosecutor Welch noted that Weaver referred to Addison as a baby 11 times during her interview with the investigating detective. Prosecutor Welch questioned how a woman can refer to the child she just birthed as a baby and not be aware that she was pregnant.
“She knew she was pregnant before giving birth,” Assistant Prosecutor Dever said. “When you have a newborn, you don’t kill it. You don’t suffocate it. And that is what Emile Weaver chose to do.”
Not only did Weaver purposely kill her daughter, she still to this day does not acknowledge guilt for that act.
“She’s not taking responsibility for what she was found guilty for,” Assistant Prosecutor Dever said.
Attorney Dever emphasized a lack of remorse. That she has never taken responsibility for killing Addison, instead, she always removes herself from the crime, calling it a tragic loss or mistake.
During resentencing, Prosecutor Welch only ceased his attack on Barnes’ credibility after the Judge acknowledged she had heard enough regarding the problems with Barnes’ testimony.
Prosecutor Welch insisted that he would continue unless the court would not consider “one iota” of Barnes’ testimony for the purpose of the sentencing.
“Addison Grace Weaver did not deserve to be murdered.” Ron Welch explained “ Addison, like every other baby ever born, entered this world as a purely innocent soul. Addison’s birth came about just as her death – as a result of conscious decisions.”
We live in a community where people are held accountable for their actions whether good or bad. Our office has spent more than eight years fighting for justice for Addison. While we accept the court’s decision, we believe the reduction of the defendant’s sentence has robbed Addison of the justice she deserved.
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