On the defense side, the first witness brought to questioning is Alice Jones – a long time friend of Mary Barnett. Her evidence is one of the weakest, for there is likely to be bias created by her friendship with the accused. Moreover, Ms. Jones is neither a law-enforcement official nor an expert in psychology to add weight to her evidence. She talks in sympathetic tones of how Ms. Barnett was going through a tough time in her personal life. Ms. Jones opines that her friend eventually “lost touch with reality”, leading to the tragic death of the baby. And she doesn’t think that “she realized that she was leaving Alison (the baby) unattended. She loved her so much.”
Dr. Bloom is the psychologist whom Ms. Barnett has been visiting both before and after the tragic event. In his view, Ms. Barnett’s post-partum depression, after the birth of Alison, is a key factor in the spiral of her mental decline. During this phase, Ms. Barnett felt “a loss of purpose, a sense of hopelessness, and a deep depression” that made her prone to losing touch with reality (as suggested by Alice Jones). Dr. Bloom’s testimony is quite key to arriving at the judgment, for he has seen Ms. Barnett either side of the event. He is of the professional view that Ms. Barnett is as much a victim as a victimizer. Taken in combination with evidence from other witnesses, the charge of second degree murder does look tenuous.
The final defense witness is Ms. Barnett herself. She makes a case for how she is deeply mentally troubled and her agony is only compounded by the loss of her beloved baby. But there is likely to be intrinsic bias in her testimony. Considering that hers is a personal and not a professional presentation, her words will carry less weight in the final judgment.
In conclusion, having weighed arguments from both sides, I will conclude that Ms. Barnett is “not guilty’ of the charge of second degree murder (intentional murder without premeditation). It is fairly certain that she did not intend to kill the baby. Neither does it appear that she volitionally not cared for the baby. This should exonerate her of charges of gross child abuse as well. It is difficult for me to believe that Dr. Bloom did not alert community/public welfare officials about Ms. Barnett’s precarious condition. While he was treating Ms. Barnett for severe anxiety and depression, did the baby’s welfare not cross his mind? In my view, Dr. Bloom is also partly guilty, in terms of not considering all aspects of the patient’s life. Ms. Barnett should receive a moderate prison sentence for grave parental negligence while also receiving psychiatric treatment. She should not be allowed to have babies unless declared mentally fit for such an arduous responsibility.