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Toronto Sun

C-section mom had hit older child

By AP, U.S.A., published in the Toronto Sun and various other newspapers, March 14, 2004

SALT LAKE CITY, U.S.A. -- The woman charged with killing one of her twins by refusing a Caesarean section was convicted of child endangerment in Pittsburgh nearly four years ago, a newspaper reported yesterday. The 2000 conviction of Melissa Rowland, 28, stemmed from a supermarket incident in which she punched her daughter several times in the face after the toddler began eating a chocolate bar, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Witnesses said she screamed, "You ate the candy bar and now I can't buy my cigarettes."

Rowland was sentenced to five years probation for simple assault, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child. Her daughter was turned over to a child-welfare agency.

Prosecutors in Salt Lake City charged Rowland Thursday with criminal homicide and child endangerment for refusing doctors' advice to get a C-section. Charging documents allege that Rowland was warned numerous times that her twins would likely die if she did not get immediate medical treatment.

A boy was stillborn Jan. 13. A girl has since been adopted.

Rowland has denied prosecutors' claims that she avoided the surgery because of fears of scarring.