SUFFOLK COUNTY District Attorney Rachael Rollins filed attempted murder charges on Monday against a 33-year-old woman accused of giving birth all alone in the bathroom of a house she was cleaning and then disposing of the live infant in a trash can on Dorchester Avenue in the Lower Mills section of Boston.
The baby was rescued on Friday when a woman heard crying coming from the trash can and notified emergency personnel in an ambulance parked nearby who investigated and found a baby boy in a “knotted plastic bag.”
Marie Merisier, 33, was arraigned for attempted murder and reckless endangerment of a child and held on bail of $100,000.
The case could be a challenging one for Rollins, who has gained a reputation for taking the personal circumstances of each crime into account when deciding whether to prosecute. The circumstances in this case are particularly troubling.
When questioned at a rooming house in Milton, Merisier allegedly said the baby wasn’t crying so she thought it was dead. She also said “she didn’t have any stuff for the baby anyway.” The Boston Globe reported that prosecutors described Merisier as having “mental health issues.”
Merisier reportedly speaks only Haitian. She has no family here and has little money after being laid off from a job at a Haitian restaurant at the start of the pandemic. Given her circumstances, Merisier’s attorney said, the $100,000 bail essentially amounts to holding her without bail.
“This case involved an impossible, complicated set of questions about mental health, prepartum and postpartum, hormonal, emotional and mental health crises,” said Merisier’s defense attorney, Cristina Rodrigues.
Merisier is scheduled to return to Dorchester District Court on March 29 for a probable cause hearing.
Early on in her tenure as district attorney, Rollins stirred controversy by publicly stating she would not file charges in cases involving low-level crimes such as trespassing, shoplifting, larceny, disorderly conduct, threats, possession of alcohol for minors, possession of non-marijuana drugs, possession with intent to distribute, destruction of property, breaking and entering to escape cold or to sleep, and driving with a suspended license.
In a statement Monday, Rollins walked a fine line between concern for the baby and the mother. She said she visited the baby in the hospital on Saturday and “was so happy to see nurses pampering, spoiling, and singing to, feeding, and generally pouring love and affection into this beautiful child.”
Rollins also raised concerns about the mother. “Although some may not be able to imagine the amount of pain, fear, disassociation, or mental anguish one must be experiencing to engage in the behavior we alleged she did, it is very real,” she said. “And it is important that parents know that if they are feeling overwhelmed or scared there are resources available to them. If parents are unprepared or unable to care for a child, they can legally surrender a newborn up to seven days old under the Safe Haven Act. This situation did not have to happen. But we need to make sure that parents of newborns know they have options if they feel hopeless, depressed, an inability to bond, or are having thoughts of harm to themselves or the child. Nobody should ever suffer in silence, but no harm should ever come to any child either.”