Teen-ager testifies in newborn’s death

By SCOTT NORTH

Herald Writer

A young woman charged with squeezing the life out of her newborn daughter in an Everett bathroom Aug. 20 testified Friday she didn’t realize she’d given birth to a full-term child until detectives questioned her about the death hours later.

Svetlana V. Andrusiv, 19, told a Snohomish County jury that she did not know she was pregnant and had no idea she was in labor until the child’s birth was well under way. The first time she saw her daughter was when the baby was in the toilet at the Everett home where she gave birth, confused, afraid and alone.

Andrusiv said she was surprised by how large the child was, because she believed she was having a miscarriage.

"I saw that it was a girl and she was pretty with blond hair," the slim, young refugee from Ukraine said, testifying with the aid of an interpreter.

Snohomish County prosecutors have charged Andrusiv with second-degree murder, alleging she hid her pregnancy and killed her child because she didn’t want to be a parent. Andrusiv’s attorneys say the death was unintentional.

Andrusiv’s daughter lived so briefly that she was never given a name. The child is officially known as Baby Girl Andrusiv.

The girl was born fully formed and lived long enough to take several breaths, jurors have been told. An autopsy showed the newborn’s ribs were snapped like twigs and dislocated from her spine. She also had bloody tears to her liver and one of her lungs, and bruises on her abdomen and head.

Andrusiv took the witness stand at the close of the fourth day of her murder trial. Most of her testimony was in Russian, but from time to time the teen-ager, who has lived in the United States since December 1998, slipped into heavily accented English.

Andrusiv told jurors how she moved to the United States, along with her family, when she was 17. Before leaving her homeland, she testified, Andrusiv had sex with a boyfriend, who is the presumed father of her child.

Andrusiv said she was not overly concerned when she began to experience signs of pregnancy, including some weight gain and a break in her menstrual cycle. The young woman said she’s always had irregular periods.

The family settled in Massachusetts, and Andrusiv said that is where she met another young man and fell in love. The couple began having sex in May 1999, not long before she turned 18, she said.

Andrusiv told how in June she underwent a complete physical exam. The doctor did not tell her she was pregnant, she testified.

But by July, Andrusiv said she began to feel movement from the fetus, and believed that she could be pregnant, but also thought it could be a problem with digestion "or I thought something was wrong with my stomach."

Andrusiv and other members of her family came to Everett to live with relatives. She said she was initially relieved when she began bleeding, believing that she had begun menstruating, and her fears of pregnancy were unfounded. Instead, over the next day Andrusiv began to experience symptoms of labor.

Andrusiv testified that she was in great pain but didn’t really know what was happening until after the child was born.

After the birth, the young woman said she pulled the child from the toilet, placed her on some towels and attempted to revive the baby by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

When asked to demonstrate what she did, Andrusiv stood at the witness stand, placed both of her hands on top and lightly pressed down several times.

The teen then told how she cleaned up the bathroom and had wrapped her child in a towel and newspaper.

There wasn’t much blood to be cleaned up, Andrusiv said, because she’d been careful to make sure that most of the evidence of the birth wound up in the toilet.

"It’s just the way I am," she testified. "I am not a messy person."

If convicted as charged, Andrusiv could face anywhere from 10 to 18 years in prison.

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

north@heraldnet.com.

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