FARGO — Ginny Rose Lubitz believed she couldn’t go to the hospital to deliver her baby. Even after losing “a massive amount of blood,” she refused emergency help.
She didn’t have insurance. She didn’t have the money. Lubitz insisted she was no longer pregnant, and instead of asking for help or calling 911, she gave birth to a baby boy in a friend’s apartment bathroom on May 5, 2018, where he died.
That's all according to Lubitz’s attorney, Kevin McCabe, who's arguing that she was forced into a bad situation because she had no money, and tried to save her newborn son before passing out due to blood loss.
“It was about money,” Lubitz's friend Kelly McIntyre testified Thursday, Jan. 9, during Lubitz's murder trial in Cass County District Court. “It all came down to money.”
Prosecutors are trying to prove that Lubitz, who had two previous abortions, never wanted the child and drowned him in the bathtub. Lubitz, 37, faces a murder charge, and testimony in her jury trial began Wednesday.
McIntyre and another friend found Lubitz in the bathroom and walked into a bloody mess, McIntyre said. At first, McIntyre guessed that Lubitz had given birth, she said, and later found the baby in the tub. The three women, who met through working at the Flying J Travel Center, occasionally smoked meth, she said, but not on the day of the birth.
“I didn’t believe she was pregnant at all until we talked about it that last week,” McIntyre said.
Emergency crews were dispatched to the apartment at 9:39 p.m. May 5, 2018, and Heidi Witzel was the first Fargo police officer to arrive. Firefighters had already arrived and directed her to the baby boy, wrapped in a towel in the living room.
“I laid him on the carpet and continued to check for any signs of life and was unable to get any signs of a pulse of the infant,” Witzel said.
Rigor mortis had already set in, Witzel said. The baby’s arms were already difficult to move.
“To me, he seemed warmer than I expected due to his rigidness, but I didn’t know if that was because he was wrapped in a towel,” Witzel said.
Witzel tried to communicate with Lubitz before paramedics arrived, she said.
“I noticed that she was very pale, and then she slouched down in the bathtub to hide her face from me at the edge of the bathtub," Witzel said. "Before, her chin was resting on the edge of the bathtub, so I could see her face.”
Before Lubitz was arrested on suspicion of murder, she was sent to Sanford Medical Center where Christina Tinguely, an OB-GYN doctor, was working the late shift. She was the first physician to treat Lubitz.
“I remember her being in pain and looking pretty pale at that time,” Tinguely testified. “I knew she had delivered her baby at home and at that time had a retained placenta. The baby was delivered but not the placenta.”
A retained placenta can lead to infection and even death, Tinguely said. Typically, a placenta is released about 45 minutes after a birth, she said, but Lubitz had retained hers for hours. Tinguely said Lubitz told hospital staff that she thought she had already miscarried.
“She is unable to recall any infant moving or crying after delivery,” the hospital report said.
Medical examiner Mary Ann Sens found that the baby died from drowning. However, she ruled that the baby’s manner of death was undetermined, meaning she did not determine whether his death was a homicide or an accident.
The infant, referred to as "Baby Boy Lubitz" by prosecutors, had no abnormalities, but did have methamphetamine in his blood. He also had a stomach full of water, which is impossible for a stillborn baby to have, Sens said. The baby’s lungs also floated in water, which was another sign that the baby was born alive.
“I’m not ever at the 100% stage, but there was a lot of evidence that this baby was born alive," Sens said. "Absolute proof is food in the stomach, and that wasn’t food.”
Lubitz sat looking down while prosecutors showed pictures of the baby before the autopsy on courtroom monitors.
McCabe challenged Sens on information included in her report given to her by law enforcement: that Baby Boy Lubitz was found face down in the bathtub.
The baby's skin was discolored, which shows the baby was on his stomach at some point after death, but she could not prove where the baby was when he died, Sens said.
“I don’t have a crystal ball here,” Sens said. “I should have said in retrospect that the baby was in a position with water in the face. I don’t know the position of the baby except that there was water over the nose and mouth. It wasn’t incorrect, because people told me that that happened, but it would have been more objective.”
“You cannot tell us today how that water got into the baby’s stomach," McCabe said.
“The infant swallowed it at some point," Sens said.
“You have no indication that Ginny Lubitz drowned her baby," McCabe said.
"No," Sens said.
Interview with the coroner
Cass County Chief Deputy Coroner Kriste Ross recorded an interview with Lubitz while she was in the hospital. The recording was played for jurors Thursday.
During the interview, Lubitz told Ross that during her pregnancy, she smoked more than two packs of cigarettes a day, but did not take drugs or drink alcohol.
“Did you go into prenatal care?” Ross asked Lubitz.
“I did not, because I didn’t realize I was actually pregnant until the last month or so,” Lubitz said. She also said she had a miscarriage once before.
“Have you had any live (births) before?”
“How many pregnancies have you had?”
“I’ve had two other abortions.”
“I thought I had a miscarriage prior to that, or earlier on, because of the symptoms were similar to the one I had before,” Lubitz said. “I assumed it was the same thing.”
Lubitz decided to take a bath around 1 p.m. May 5, 2018, she said, because the extra heat would help with the pain of her symptoms.
“Do you remember what happened when the baby came out?” Ross said.
“Not really no, I remember seeing the umbilical cord, and I had to cut that,” Lubitz said. “I tried to grab the scissors, but I was in a lot of pain.”
“You must have been in shock at that point.”
“Surprised, I mean, I thought I was pregnant, but I didn’t really think I was.”
“Was the baby able to cry?”
“I don’t remember.”
“I was going to ask if you were able to nurse, or anything like that.”
“I really don’t remember, other than the umbilical cord.”
“What happened after you cut the umbilical cord?”
“I don’t remember. I was in the bathtub beforehand.”
“Where was the baby at?”
“I believe it was lying on the floor, I was just trying to get to the scissors.”
“Did you ever try to wrap the baby up in a blanket to keep him warm?”
“I really don’t remember anything.”
Lubitz said she had a lot of blood on her, and had spent much of the day sleeping.
“When Kelly came in did she do anything with the baby?” Ross said.
“Everything's so blurry, I assume she did, but I can’t tell you," Lubitz said. "I had lost a lot of blood, and I was still bleeding.”
“Did you tell your friends you were pregnant?”
“I don’t believe so.”
“Did you try to call anyone for help or anything?”
“I know I had my phone on me, and I remember trying to call someone, but I couldn’t figure it out. I tried to press buttons and nothing seemed to be working.”
Ross asked Lubitz about employment, and Lubitz said she was no longer working.
“I was trying to find a new job, but nobody would hire me," Lubitz said. "It’s not as easy out there as people say it is.”
"Was it a quick birth?" asked Fargo Police Detective Chris Mathson, who accompanied Ross to the interview.
"That was the point everything gets foggy," Lubitz said. "It wasn't there, and then it was there. I remember being over the edge of the tub and checking the water. And then there was the baby right there."
The baby was born onto the bathroom floor, Lubitz said.
Lubitz couldn't remember any details related to the baby's skin coloring, or where she put the baby for several hours, or whether she had taken any drugs during the day, according to the recorded interview.
When asked who the baby's father was, Lubitz said the father wanted nothing to do with their son.
The trial is set to resume at 9 a.m. Friday.