DNA test sought to prove paternity
“It’s very sad. It’s a heartstrings kind of a case.” NANCY SUE GREGORIE, attorney for Matthew Crane
An East Baton Rouge Parish man was floored when he learned his former girlfriend had been arrested last year in the December 2002 killing of an infant girl.
Matthew Crane, who suspects he may be the father of the infant who was found dead in a garbage truck, has gone to court to try to prove his paternity.
“It hit him like a ton of bricks,” said Crane’s attorney, Nancy Sue Gregorie, on Tuesday of Crane’s reaction to the January 2012 news that JoAnn King had given birth to a baby in December 2002 and allegedly immediately tossed the infant in the trash. Until that point, Crane never knew the child existed.
Crane, who claims to have had a sexual relationship with King from October 2001 to August 2002, wants to know if he’s the biological father of the infant buried at Greenoaks Memorial Park under the name Christine Noel Love.
If he is, he wants to move the infant’s grave from Greenoaks to a family plot and also make a victim impact statement in King’s criminal case.
“It’s very sad,” Gregorie said. “It’s a heartstrings kind of a case.”
King, 30, of Baton Rouge, was indicted in April 2012 on a second-degree murder charge in the Dec. 6, 2002, killing of “baby Jane Doe” and is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 10.
She is free on bond.
At the time of the infant’s death, Baton Rouge police submitted the baby’s DNA evidence to the State Police Crime Lab.
Years later, detectives linked King’s DNA to that of the baby.
It is unclear when the mother’s DNA was collected.
Crane’s paternity petition, filed in January, asks the Crime Lab to turn over bodily tissue or fluid from the baby so blood or DNA testing can be performed.
Gregorie said State Police require a court order to release any of the material.
Crane is also seeking an East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court order that would force King to undergo blood or DNA testing.
Gregorie said King’s DNA is crucial to making the determination of Crane’s paternity of the child.
“I could probably do it without her (DNA), but it would not be as definitive,” Gregorie said.
A hearing on Crane’s request was scheduled Tuesday, but only Gregorie showed up.
She told Family Court Judge Pamela Baker that Bruce Craft, the attorney representing King in the civil matter, was permanently disbarred last month.
Baker tentatively reset the hearing for Nov. 5.
Before his disbarment, Craft argued in court filings the paternity issue should be handled in criminal court.
“There is no legal father of the deceased minor child as King was not married at the time of its birth,” he argued.
Crane contends in his petition King “actively hid her pregnancy” from him, and their relationship ended “without his ever knowing that she was pregnant.”
King, who faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted as charged, admitted Jan. 26, 2012, to killing the baby in December 2002 by throwing the infant into a trash bin, police have said.
BFI garbage truck workers discovered the baby at 8:40 a.m. on Dec. 6, 2002, dangling from a ripped garbage bag in the back of the truck, which was in the 2200 block of Iberia Street.
The workers found the baby just before it would have been passed through the garbage compactor.
The baby, who probably had been born the day before, died from a blow to the head, probably once it was in the truck, the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office stated.
A private organization called Threads of Love, which donates burial garments to the parents of miscarried fetuses, gave the baby the name Christine Noel Love and provided a funeral in December 2002 at “Babyland,” an array of infant graves at Greenoaks.
She was buried in a small white, plastic casket topped with pink carnations.
The entire funeral — including the embalming, the plot, the flowers and the casket — was donated within a day of the child’s discovery, according to Threads of Love.
In 2000, the Legislature passed a law allowing mothers to leave newborns at hospitals and police and fire stations up to 30 days after birth without being prosecuted.