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Jessica Smallwood Won't Be Charged After Drugged Fetus Found In Freezer

The Huffington Post     First Posted: 11/10/12 EST Updated: 11/12/12 EST

A Florida woman whose stillborn fetus was found in the freezer won't be charged, despite traces of cocaine found in the fetus' blood.

Jessica Smallwood, 27, was under intense police scrutiny for six months following the discovery of a 6 1/2-pound, third-trimester female fetus wrapped in a garbage bag inside her freezer in Punta Gorda. But the investigation concluded Thursday after prosecutors deemed the fetus stillborn -- it never took a breath, according to the Herald Tribune.

Cocaine was found in the fetus' blood, but expectant mothers cannot be charged for passing drugs to their fetus.

"You wouldn't want to hinder a woman from seeking prenatal care out of fear that she would be charged criminally," assistant state attorney Shannon Doolity told the paper.

There are laws that dictate proper disposal of remains in Florida, but there's no evidence that a crime occurred. During the investigation, Smallwood maintained that she thought she had passed a blood clot in January and didn't know she was pregnant. Investigators couldn't confirm who put the fetus in the freezer.

Smallwood gave conflicting stories to police over the course of the investigation, which began when her mother called an ambulance because she was bleeding profusely. She reportedly gave a suspicious story that led officers to get a warrant to search her home.

The fetus was originally reported as a newborn by NBC-2, but an autopsy revealed that the corpse was a stillborn.