Jury out in trial of teen-age mother

By SCOTT NORTH

Herald Writer

A Snohomish County jury began Tuesday trying to decide whether the death of a newborn in Everett was an intentional murder, a reckless mistake or a terrible accident.

Jurors deliberated for much of the afternoon regarding the case of Svetlana V. Andrusiv, 19, who went on trial last week. She’s charged with second-degree murder in the death of her daughter. Jurors were scheduled to resume their deliberations this morning.

Prosecutors allege that Andrusiv, a refugee from Ukraine, hid her pregnancy and then squeezed the life out of her newborn on Aug. 20 because she didn’t want to be a parent. Andrusiv’s attorneys counter that the death was unintentional, and that the young woman gave birth, alone in the bathroom of a north Everett home, thinking she was having a miscarriage.

Andrusiv was ignorant and foolish but there is no evidence that her daughter’s death was anything but a tragedy, one of her attorneys, public defender Susan Gaer, said in closing arguments.

"Do not increase this tragedy," she urged jurors. "Let Svetlana go home."

Deputy prosecutor Paul Stern said the law requires jurors not to let sympathy for the young woman, or the unpleasant nature of the allegations, stand in the way of justice.

"You can’t convince yourself, because you don’t like it, that it is not true," he said.

An autopsy showed the child died from crushing force to her abdomen, which snapped her ribs like twigs and caused cuts on her liver and a lung. All of the baby’s ribs were separated from her spine, and she lost roughly one-fourth of her blood to internal bleeding.

Prosecutors brought in doctors who are experts in child abuse. They testified the injuries were consistent with somebody squeezing the child to death. The defense countered with testimony from Andrusiv that she had attempted – poorly – to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the girl, who was born headfirst into a toilet.

Jurors have been given a number of options in the case. To convict Andrusiv as charged, they must unanimously agree she intentionally harmed her child. If the jury doesn’t convict on murder, it may consider the lesser offenses of first- or second-degree manslaughter. The jury would have to rule Andrusiv acted recklessly or was criminally negligent to convict on manslaughter.

The jury also was instructed that it may find the death an excusable homicide if members believe the baby died in an accident or misfortune that wasn’t the result of an illegal act.

Lawyers on both sides tried to discredit their opponent’s theory of the case, not even finding agreement on the child’s identity. Prosecutors referred to the girl by her official name, Baby Girl Andrusiv, pointing out repeatedly that she lived so briefly she didn’t even have a name. Gaer reminded jurors of Andrusiv’s testimony late in the case, about how she named the baby Elizabeth Michelle, days after the child’s death.

Gaer charged prosecutors with offering "pure fantasy" in suggesting that Andrusiv had lied and told inconsistent stories about the birth. There was ample evidence to support the young woman’s contention she did not know she was pregnant and carrying a full-term baby when she went into labor, Gaer said.

"Pregnancies are different," she said. "People’s bodies are different. Svetlana Andrusiv’s didn’t give her enough notice."

Deputy prosecutor Janice Albert said Andrusiv killed because her newborn stood in the way of her plans and dreams.

"She had a new life waiting for her here, and she wasn’t going to let this new life take it away from her," Albert said.

You can call Herald Writer Scott North at 425-339-3431or send e-mail to

north@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

magniX employees and staff have moved into the company's new 40,000 square foot office on Seaway Boulevard on Monday, Jan. 18, 2020 in Everett, Washington. magniX consolidated all of its Australia and Redmond operations under one roof to be home to the global headquarters, engineering, manufacturing and testing of its electric propulsion systems.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Harbour Air plans to buy 50 electric motors from Everett company magniX

One of the largest seaplane airlines in the world plans to retrofit its fleet with the Everett-built electric propulsion system.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Driver arrested in fatal crash on Highway 522 in Maltby

The driver reportedly rear-ended Jeffrey Nissen as he slowed down for traffic. Nissen, 28, was ejected and died at the scene.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
3 charged with armed home invasion in Mountlake Terrace

Elan Lockett, Rodney Smith and Tyler Taylor were accused of holding a family at gunpoint and stealing their valuables in January.

PAWS Veterinarian Bethany Groves in the new surgery room at the newest PAWS location on Saturday, April 20, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Snohomish hospital makes ‘massive difference’ for wild animals

Lynnwood’s Progressive Animal Welfare Society will soon move animals to its state of the art, 25-acre facility.

Traffic builds up at the intersection of 152nd St NE and 51st Ave S on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to weigh in on how Marysville will look in 20 years

Marysville is updating its comprehensive plan and wants the public to weigh in on road project priorities.

Mountlake Terrace Mayor Kyko Matsumoto-Wright on Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
With light rail coming soon, Mountlake Terrace’s moment is nearly here

The anticipated arrival of the northern Link expansion is another sign of a rapidly changing city.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
1 dead in motorcycle crash on Highway 522 in Maltby

Authorities didn’t have any immediate details about the crash that fully blocked the highway Friday afternoon.

Photographs in the 2024 Annual Black and White Photography Contest on display at the Schack Art Center on Thursday, April 18, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Black and white photos aren’t old school for teens at Schack Art Center

The photography contest, in its 29th year, had over 170 entries. See it at the Schack in Everett through May 5.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett mom charged with first-degree murder in death of son, 4

On Friday, prosecutors charged Janet Garcia, 27, three weeks after Ariel Garcia went missing from an Everett apartment.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.