Port Angeles teen now faces 2nd-degree murder in death of newborn

PORT ANGELES — The teenage mother who allegedly drowned her newborn in a toilet, then placed the body in an alley trash container, will now face only a second-degree murder charge.

Charges of first-degree murder against 17-year-old Lauryn Louise Last were dropped at the prosecution’s request after a new deputy prosecutor reviewed evidence.

An April 14 hearing will determine whether statements Last made to police about how her infant died can be used during her trial.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Troberg said the evidence better supports a second-degree murder charge because there appears to be no premeditation.

“It was the charge that most appropriately fits the facts and all of the available evidence,” he said.

“Just from a common sense point of view, it makes sense to take one of the charges and focus on that instead of presenting the jury with two possibilities.”

The first-degree alternative was officially dismissed without prejudice March 19.

If convicted of first-degree murder, she could have been sentenced to prison for up to 27 years.

A second-degree murder conviction carries a maximum 18-year sentence.

The Port Angeles girl was 15 when she was charged as an adult Jan. 2, 2009, with killing her newborn boy following his birth on Dec. 30, 2008.

June 7 trial

Her often-delayed trial is now scheduled for June 7.

The April 14 hearing is scheduled to hear testimony of Port Angeles police officers who interviewed Last in the days following the discovery of her newborn’s body.

Last pleaded not guilty in January 2009 after authorities found the body in a 30-ton trash container near Tacoma, where garbage had been shipped via the Port Angeles transfer station.

The hearing will determine whether her statements to police at that time are admissible at her trial, Troberg said.

After about eight months in juvenile detention, Last was released in January on her own recognizance to live with her grandmother and an uncle without electronic monitoring, but she remains under a nightly curfew.

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Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at paige.dickerson@peninsuladailynews.com.

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