KITTANNING, Pa. – A judge tossed out the alleged confession of a woman accused of trying to cut a fetus from her neighbor's womb, ruling that police had not had enough evidence to take the defendant into custody at the scene.
Peggy Jo Conner was charged with assault and attempted homicide in the attack last fall on Valerie Oskin. Prosecutors say the 38-year-old hit Conner with a baseball bat, then took her to a secluded wooded area and sliced Oskin's belly in an attempt to cut out the child.
Both Oskin, 30, and her son, delivered by emergency surgery, survived.
Armstrong County Common Pleas Judge Kenneth Valasek said state troopers had not collected enough evidence at the scene to warrant taking Conner into custody.
"Simply because (Conner) was present with some blood on her clothes does not, by itself, constitute probable cause to effect a lawful arrest," Valasek wrote.
State troopers have testified that Conner was read her Miranda rights three times before she talked in detail with a trooper as he filled out paperwork about 12 hours after police said they found the two women in the woods.
Defense attorney David DeFazio argued that Conner had been awake about 24 hours without food by then.
Conner has testified that troopers pounded on a table and cursed at her and that she didn't feel she was free to leave until she gave the final statement. "I was told if I wasn't guilty then I didn't need a lawyer," she said.
Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi said the case could go forward without the statements. Authorities have said rubber gloves, a razor knife, a syringe and a crowbar that appeared to be covered in blood were found in Conner's car.