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Opening statements made in mummified baby case

By Shay Arthur
Published On: May 20 2014 09:24:21 PM CDT
Updated On: May 20 2014 08:12:00 PM CDT
REDDING, Calif. -

"She did nothing to help it," said Shasta County Senior Deputy District Attorney Kelly Kafel Tuesday morning during her opening statement.

Jessica Bradford is accused of giving birth to a baby girl then hiding the body until it was found 48 days later, mummified, in a laundry basket.

The story made national headlines when it was brought to light in November 2011.

Bradford, who was 23-years-old at the time was an employee at the Julian Youth Academy in Whitmore. Julian Youth Academy was a private, Christian school for troubled teens.

During her opening statement Kafel asked the jury to convict Bradford of first-degree murder, telling them the young woman knew what she was doing when she neglected the child.

Kafel said Bradford gave birth to the child September 19, 2011, under a deck at the school.

She told no one she was pregnant, including her boyfriend, said Kafel.

Bradford told investigators she did not tell anyone about her pregnancy because she was worried about her reputation.

Kafel said during the four days the baby was alive Bradford made several trips to Redding and went bar hopping with friends while the baby stayed in a hot car and empty room.

Kafel said Bradford was well aware of her pregnancy symptoms.

She had given birth in 2010 to another secret baby.

Bradford allegedly thought she had aborted the baby by taking abortion pills.

The child, named Bella, was born at the hospital but died from an infection.

Kafel said the second baby, named Lily, died after four days.

She said although a coroner examined the body because of it’s state they will never be able to tell if she died from dehydration, starvation or suffocation.

Bradford’s defense attorney from San Diego, Johnathan Jordan, said he’s not arguing a baby was never born and he doesn’t dispute his client made bad decisions.

But he said she did take care of the baby.

“Evidence will show Ms. Bradford did not intend for the child to die,” Jordan said.

Throughout the day several Sheriff’s investigators testified about what they found when they responded to the call a baby had been found.

Several fellow co-workers, dorm mates and friends of Bradford’s took the stand as well.

Alexandra Valencia was one of them. She lived in the same dorm as Bradford. At one point Bradford had served as her mentor but most recently was a coworker.

Valencia said it was around 11:45 p.m. in early November when she went into Bradford’s room looking for a blanket for another friend. Bradford was not home at the time.

Valencia said as she went through a pile of blankets she started smelling something strange.

“It smelled like something died,” Valencia explained.

But Bradford did not keep her room tidy so at first she wasn’t that surprised.

As Valencia continued to rifle through the blankets a baby rolled out.

“I didn’t think it was real,” Valencia said. “I was in shock.”

The baby had a head of hair and fully developed arms and legs.

Valencia called her roommate in and together they decided what to do.

It had recently been Halloween and the dorms had been decorated so they thought it might’ve been a hidden Halloween prop.

The two returned the baby to how they found her in the blankets.

However that night Valencia said she had nightmares.

The next day, not feeling right about the situation she went to find the baby again and report it.

She waited until Bradford was gone again but when she went to the pile of blankets the baby was gone.

Valencia reported finding the baby to supervisors.

The baby was later found in a utility closet in a laundry basket and Bradford was arrested.  

Throughout the baby’s short four-day lifespan Bradford allegedly moved the baby around the campus.

Several people who worked on campus reported hearing a baby’s cries but did know where they were coming from because it would be almost impossible for a baby to be on the 250-acre campus.

One worker testified she heard cries coming from a car on a day that the temperatures reached the high 90s but thought that would be “impossible.”

A groundskeeper also told investigators he heard cries from an empty building.

According to a Sheriff’s report Bradford initially told deputies the baby was a stillborn but later changed her story and said she had lived for four days.

The trial is expected to last five weeks.