PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny County Judge Anthony Mariani found a Tarentum mother not guilty of concealing her infant child’s death and conspiracy Thursday.
Nicole Dull faced a non- jury trial today after the body of five-week-old James Timothy Vincent was found in a Butler County motel in August of 2012. It turns out the baby died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The death was not a homicide.
The couple left a suicide note at the Avalon Motel previously, indicating they intended to commit suicide. They attempted to take their own lives with heroin.
Judge Mariani told Dull he did not approve of all that happened, but there was reasonable doubt she was guilty of the crimes charged.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” Nicole Dull told Harold Hayes after the hearing. “I’m so glad it’s over. It’s been really hard.”
Dull served eight months in jail before being released on bond earlier this spring.
“I’m trying to get counseling and I’m trying to get through this somehow you know? I really don’t know where to go from here. Our lives have been plastered through the news and it’s just really hard to come back from this,” Dull said.
Investigators said the couple did not call the authorities to avoid possible scrutiny of their previous drug history. Investigators from Children Youth and Family services monitored their household.
But, her attorney argued that the total circumstance called for a not guilty verdict.
“Factually, the elements of the crime don’t fit the actions that these individuals did,” said defense attorney Bill Difenderfer. “It’s clear that they were – obviously the child was unfortunately deceased. There was no issue about that. The grieving process – they weren’t prepared to separate from the child. They had some internal guilt as all parents do with SIDS. We have talked to experts. They are being treated by experts. It is normal that a parent doesn’t want to be separated from the body, if you will. Their actions actually, and in terms of experience of the sudden death of a child is more normal than anything. There’s documented cases throughout the country of parents being with the child for days before they call. They had no intention of concealing ultimately, the death of the child or the body of the child.”
The baby’s father, James Vincent pleaded guilty back in January and was previously sentenced to time served.
“Just want to say it really has been hard because our intention never was to bring any kind of harm to our son, “ James Vincent told Harold Hayes. “ We loved our son. She was a good mother, I was a good father. We just want his positive memory to live on. We didn’t have the chance to grieve together. We knew when he was gone that just all the craziness of waking up finding your son gone, you don’t know where you’re going to go as a parent.”
Harold Hayes asked, “Did you panic?”
“It was total panic,” replied Vincent. “We didn’t know what to do about it then the guilt overwhelmed us and we thought well, then let’s all go as a family. As crazy as it sounds, when you’re grieving, there’s no lesson on how to grieve. There’s no book, there’s no instructions on this as what you do and as unusual as it may seem, the grieving process should have started from the day he died. We should have been together. We never should have been incarcerated for something that proved out never to be a crime.”
The maximum, had she been convicted was five years on the charge of concealing the death of a child, and five years for conspiracy.