Tense trial likely in baby’s death

By SCOTT NORTH

Herald Writer

On Aug. 20, 1999, Svetlana V. Andrusiv gave birth to a little girl in Everett.

This morning, she goes on trial on a charge of second-degree murder.

Andrusiv, a 19-year-old refugee from Ukraine, is facing allegations of infanticide. Snohomish County prosecutors allege the slender young woman with dark eyes hid her pregnancy and then snuffed out the girl’s life shortly after giving birth to the child, alone, in the bathroom of the north Everett home she shared with her family.

"The evidence is clear that the child was born alive and suffered severe traumatic injuries that caused death," deputy prosecutor Paul Stern said Monday.

An autopsy showed the girl died from asphyxia and chest injuries so severe that all of the baby’s ribs were either dislocated or broken, court papers say.

Opening statements were scheduled this morning. One of Andrusiv’s attorneys, public defender Susan Gaer, declined to talk about the defense she has planned.

Lawyers on both sides spent most of Monday seating a jury. The people picked to hear the case told lawyers that they expect the case to be disturbing.

Not only will the trial probe the death of a newborn, but jurors also will have to decide what should happen to a single mother, then 18, who allegedly killed her baby. If convicted, Andrusiv is facing anywhere from 10 to 18 years in prison.

Andrusiv and her family arrived in the United States from Ukraine in December 1998, settling first in Massachusetts. They came to Snohomish County just weeks before the child’s birth.

The case began when authorities were summoned by Andrusiv’s family and were shown the dead baby in a box.

Speaking through an interpreter, Andrusiv told police that the child was born headfirst into the toilet, and that several minutes passed before she attempted "some degree of resuscitative actions," according to court papers.

The injuries found on the baby’s body were inconsistent with damage that could have been caused by attempts to revive the child, and suggest damage caused by "crushing impact" or "aggressive gripping" of the newborn’s torso, prosecutors allege.

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

north@heraldnet.com.

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