"After we tried that case, I think they'd have given her a death penalty in a heartbeat. That’s the effect she had on the jury." So say the Muskingum County prosecutors involved in the case of Emile Weaver, a Delta Gamma Theta sorority sister at Muskingum University's New Concord, Ohio, campus who on April 22, 2015, gave birth in a half bathroom at her sorority house. Two of her sorority sisters later found the infant's lifeless body in a tightly knotted black trash bag in a garbage bin outside. Weaver ended up being convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to life without parole. In a wide-ranging piece for Elle, Alex Ronan delves into the topic of neonaticides, Weaver's difficult upbringing, and her awareness of—and fierce denial of—her pregnancy.
Ronan recounts how she attempted to visit an abortion clinic in November 2014 but was forced to turn around after an ice storm closed the roads, for instance. But Weaver also testified that "I said no so many times that in my mind none of this was happening." She maintains that while her daughter, subsequently named Addison Grace, was born alive, she did not kill her. Ronan also follows the journey of Weaver's sorority sisters—at first her fiercest defenders, they ultimately supported the prosecution. It's a big arc: The sister who confirmed "it's a whole f---ing baby" in the bag went online after Weaver's arrest to slap back at critics, writing in one case, "That's my sister and you do not know the half of it." After hearing the evidence at the trial, she changed her mind; she told Ronan she was relieved when Weaver's sentence was upheld. (Read the piece in full here.)