Friday, February 11, 2011

Brigit Hippen going to trial for murder charge after leaving 3-month-old near a hair dryer

Posted By on Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge Karina Perez's mother is facing murder charges.
  • Karina Perez's mother is facing murder charges.

Brigit Hippen told authorities that she put her unclothed baby in a bassinet and left a blow-dryer next to the 3-month-old girl to warm her up in the bathroom at her apartment on February 22, 2010. She put a blanket over the bassinet and went back to her bedroom, where she fell asleep, the Hutchinson News reported. The infant, Karina Perez, died from the heat of the hair dryer.

Hippen, 19, is now charged with second-degree murder -- while authorities acknowledge that Perez's death was unintentional, they believe "Hippen acted recklessly with extreme indifference to the value of human life." On Tuesday, Hippen was bound over for trial.

The baby was left in the bathroom around 11:30 p.m. Around 3 a.m. February 23, Hippen and her boyfriend, Oscar Perez, rushed their

daughter to a Hutchinson hospital, where Perez was pronounced dead.

Dr. William Unsderfer reportedly testified that he "saw no reason for

malicious activity surrounding the child's death."

The Hutch News reported that Unsderfer examined Perez at the hospital --

and he noted that "Hippen was crying, distraught and stating she had

killed her baby and she was a terrible person."

The details of Unsderfer's examination are just gut-wrenching:

Unsderfer said the marks on the

baby's head and face were "burns from the heat source." He described a

"continuum" of third-degree and second-degree burns all over the baby's

body, with a "concentration on the left side."

When the baby's body temperature was checked, it was 108 degrees after

arriving at the hospital, and the temperature was still 103 degrees

nearly two hours later, he said. Hippen also told him she had left the

baby near the hairdryer and fallen asleep.


Prosecutors aren't feeling much sympathy for Hippen.


"I can think of many ways to heat up a child, and that wouldn't be one

of them," Reno County Assistant DA Cheryl Allen reportedly said.

Hippen's defense attorney reportedly told the court that his client's "apartment had heating problems," and Hippen used the "warmth and noise" of the blow-dryer to comfort the child.

An autopsy report apparently called Perez's death an accident. However,

the Reno County District Attorney's Office reportedly issued a news

release listing the baby's death as hyperthermia, due to "an elevated

body

temperature due to failed thermoregulation, which occurs when the body

produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate."

At Tuesday's hearing, District Judge Joe McCarville reportedly

said there was "no question" that Hippen was responsible for her baby's death,

and her actions "were not the right way to take care of a baby." He

noted that while Hippen was attempting to warm her baby, her actions were

risky.

It'll be up to a jury to determine whether Hippen was at fault. Hippen's arraignment is set for March 7. If convicted, she's facing at

least nine years in prison.

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