Tennessee Appeals Court Reinstates Convictions of Woman Accused of Killing Newborn Twins

Tennessee’s Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday reinstated the murder convictions of a Sumner County woman who was accused of killing twin newborns she secretly gave birth to in her parents’ home in 2011.

A Sumner County judge threw out Lindsey Lowe’s convictions in 2022 and ordered a new trial, citing juror bias in the original trial, the appeals panel said in its ruling.

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But the appeals court said in its ruling that the judge erred in hearing the post-conviction appeal at all and that Lowe’s defense did not prove bias on the part of the juror.

Lowe was convicted in March 2013 on two counts of murder and two counts of aggravated child abuse. Prosecutors said she hid her pregnancy from her parents and her fiance because the father was another man. She gave birth in a bathroom and smothered the infant boys, hiding their bodies in a laundry basket.

Lowe’s mother found one of the bodies in the laundry basket the next day, and investigators found the second infant buried further into the basket. Lowe told police she didn’t know she was pregnant and that she covered their faces to keep them quiet, WZTV reported.

According to the Court of Appeals, Lowe was given an “effective sentence of life imprisonment.”

Lowe argued on appeal in September 2019 that the original trial was not fair because a juror responded to a jury questionnaire that she had heard about the case on the news and that she had formed an opinion that Lowe “lied and killed her two newborns.” It was on that basis that the county judge granted a new trial, but the appeals court noted that the juror in question had further answered the questionnaire that could lay that opinion aside and judge the facts of the case.

She further answered the same to similar questions from attorneys, and defense attorneys did not use a strike to exclude her from the jury.

“We determine that the post-conviction court improperly determined that there was willful concealment on the part of Juror 17 that showed actual bias,” Judge Timothy L. Easter wrote for the court. “In our review, we fail to see how Petitioner proved prejudice by showing ‘there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.’”

The appeal on juror bias was allowed to go through after the county judge ruled on another issue — that Lowe’s attorneys were working under a mistaken impression of the deadline to file their appeal and missed it by more than a month. The Court of Appeals ruled that the state legislature had made the deadline very clear and the attorneys’ mistaken impression was not an excuse for missing it.

Lowe was booked back into Sumner County Jail after the ruling on Friday and posted a $75,000 bond the same day, according to The Tennessean, which said she was allowed a release on bond because she plans to appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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