After five hours of deliberation, a McCracken County jury Wednesday night found two teens, who discarded their newborn baby girl in a dumpster near Fernwood Apartments on Berger Road, not guilty of attempted murder but guilty on lesser charges.
Casside Cherry, 16, and Trevon Elmore, 18, were charged with attempted murder, first-degree criminal abuse and tampering with physical evidence. Wednesday completed their third day of trial.
Just before 10 p.m., the jury returned six guilty verdicts, convicting each teen of first-degree wanton endangerment, third-degree criminal abuse and tampering with physical evidence.
First-degree wanton endangerment and tampering with physical evidence are felonies, and each is punishable by up to five years in prison. Third-degree criminal abuse is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in prison.
The late-night verdict came after the final day of trial testimony, during which Elmore and Cherry told their stories for the first time.
Taking the stand first, Cherry testified she had very few memories of what occurred on July 30, 2015, before and after the birth.
"I remember I felt like I just had to push, and I remember I pushed and Ã¢ Â¦ my daughter came out," she said. "Then I remember blacking out and having a seizure. And when I woke up, Trevon was sitting on the edge of the bed and he said, 'I think you just had a seizure.'"
After that Cherry said she remembers waking up in a helicopter -- she was airlifted to Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville later that night -- and then later waking up in the hospital.
Cherry spent several days in the hospital due to complications after the birth. Her attorney, Richard Null, said she had developed eclampsia, a seizure disorder that typically results from untreated pre-eclampsia.
While on the stand, Cherry also disputed Elmore's claim that she told him to "get rid of (the baby)." She insisted she would never have suggested putting the child in a dumpster.
Elmore told a different story.
When Cherry went into labor, Elmore said, he wanted to go for help, but she told him not to. After the baby was born, Elmore said, they discussed what to do with the child.
"We were both confused," he said. "She said a lot of different stuff." Ultimately, he said Cherry told him to "get rid of it," instructing him to put the baby in the dumpster at the apartment complex.
Elmore said Cherry got a garbage bag out of a nearby closet and together they wrapped the baby in a blanket and placed her in the bag.
When he left the apartment, Elmore said, he planned to give the baby to someone, but he was scared. He said he also thought about dropping the baby off at Merryman House, but he didn't want anyone to see him.
Finally, he said, he noticed Daniel Hodge, who later found the infant in the dumpster, through the window of Hodge's "motorcycle shop" on Berger Road.
Elmore said he tried act conspicuous to catch Hodge's attention before placing the child in the dumpster. He said he then waited nearby to ensure Hodge found her.
After being taken from the dumpster, the baby was hospitalized for one week and was then turned into state custody.
Following their testimony, the attorneys gave their closing statements.
Elmore's attorney, Angela Troutman, reiterated her client acted out of fear.
"Fear drives people to do things without thinking," she said. Troutman said Elmore was already afraid he might go to jail for getting his underage girlfriend pregnant, then he witnessed her giving birth, bleeding and having seizures.
A product of abuse, somewhat dim-witted and having received little guidance from his parents, Elmore was ill-equipped to deal with the situation he found himself in, Troutman said.
Null contended the only thing his client was guilty of was concealing her pregnancy from her mother, which is not a crime.
"The person responsible for putting the baby in the dumpster is the person who put the baby in the dumpster," he said. Null also attacked Elmore, accusing him of repeatedly changing his story to fit his needs.
As for the prosecution, Commonwealth Attorney Carrie Ovey-Wiggins focused her closing on one theme: self-preservation.
"This is not a hard case," she said.
"This is a case of two individuals, Casside Cherry and Trevon Elmore, who had a relationship. They had a sexual relationship and conceived a baby. They conceived the baby, they hid the pregnancy and then they were going to get rid of the baby without anybody knowing about it."
They had a plan, Wiggins said, which was to hide the baby and protect Elmore from what they thought could result in a statutory rape charge.
"Their own interests prevailed over the interest of their baby," she said.
Following the verdict, jurors are typically tasked with a second phase of deliberations -- making penalty recommendations.
Since Cherry is still a juvenile, her penalty phase was pushed back until February so it could be handled by the juvenile court system.
As for Elmore, by The Sun's press time Wednesday night, the jury was still considering sentencing recommendations and had not yet returned a decision.