A Baltimore County midwife who delivered a Sykesville couple's stillborn child last winter was found guilty yesterday of practicing midwifery without a license.
Carroll County Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. found Karen Hunter, 34, of Glenarm guilty of the misdemeanor and gave her a suspended six-month sentence. Ms. Hunter was ordered to serve three years' supervised probation and not to practice midwifery unless she becomes certified as a nurse-midwife.
Ms. Hunter and Sally Cromwell, her attorney, said they intend to appeal the decision.
In a plea bargain, Ms. Hunter, a single mother of three, pleaded not guilty to charges that she practiced midwifery without a license when she delivered 10-pound, 2-ounce Jonathan Caleb Morgan last December. In exchange for her agreement to a statement of facts that could convict her, the state's attorney's office agreed to drop the more serious charges of reckless endangerment. Attorneys also recommended that Ms. Hunter receive a suspended sentence and be barred from practicing midwifery as a condition of her probation.
The statement of facts, read by Assistant State's Attorney Theresa Adams, said that Jonathan, the first child for Cynthia and Johnny Morgan of Sykesville, was stillborn the morning of Dec. 19.
An autopsy showed that the child had died of an infection of the placenta up to 24 hours before he was born, Ms. Adams said. She said that medical experts would have testified that the infection could have been detected and that the child's death could have been prevented.
"The way to change a law if you are unhappy with it is through the legislative process," Judge Beck told Ms. Hunter and nearly 90 of her supporters in the courtroom in finding her guilty.
"Until the state changes it, this is the state law and the court finds itself with no choice," Judge Beck said.
In a similar case two months ago, supporters packed a Howard County courtroom in support of Judie Ray Pradier, 38, a midwife from Adelphi who was charged with practicing midwifery without a certificate. She also was represented by Ms. Cromwell.
Ms. Pradier was greeted with cheers and hugs from the throng after Judge R. Russell Sadler dismissed the case because a prosecutor never asked witnesses to identify her as the midwife who delivered a baby in Clarksville last October.