Chastity Ballinger (Source: Dallas County District Attorney's Office)
WILCOX COUNTY, AL (WSFA) -
The capital murder charge is being dropped against a Wilcox County woman whom police said gave birth to a baby in 2006 and left it in a storage container for years.
Chastity Ballinger was arrested in May 2014 and charged with capital murder, months after the Dec. 2013 discovery of the human remains in a Clarke County shed. A judge tossed the capital murder charge during a preliminary hearing saying there isn't enough evidence to support the claim.
Ballinger's attorney, William Whatley, said the charge was dropped because the court could not prove there was a live birth and therefore couldn't prove any type of murder. Whatley added that his client has a medical history of miscarriages and stillborn births.
The court did find probable cause on the abuse of a corpse charge, which still stands. It will be up to a grand jury on whether to indict Ballinger on that count, her attorney said. The abuse of a corpse charge was filed shortly after the baby's body was found in the shed in Dec. 2013 by Clarke County law enforcement.
According to Wilcox County Sheriff Earnest Evans in a May interview, eight years ago, Ballinger delivered a full term baby inside her mobile home off County Road 32 in Arlington. She then wrapped it in a plastic bag and placed it inside a storage bin, the sheriff said.
"We believe she was using some type of drug," the sheriff explained, saying Ballinger was smoking crack at the time and told authorities she didn't know what she did.
Ballinger's now ex-husband, Kenneth Sheppard, a truck driver, stated in May that she hid the pregnancy and the birth from him during his constant time on the road.
The couple eventually moved to Clarke County and the container with the remains was mixed in with the couple's belongings and placed in a storage facility behind their house. Ballinger went on with her life and in 2009, she welcomed a daughter with Sheppard.
"The corpse was taken from Wilcox County to Clark County and had been sitting there up until last year," the sheriff said.
Sheppard declined an interview when asked in May but revealed off camera that he made the discovery the previous September at the home they once shared on Mac Millan Drive in Thomasville. The couple had gone their separate ways and he was going through items in their shed when he found the container. Mixed in with baby toys, blankets and clothes were the remains of their infant son, Sheppard said.
"At first, she tried to tell me it was a dead dog. It wasn't the first pregnancy she hid from me," Sheppard said. "I don't know how anyone could ever do this. We had been together for 13 years and she had been the perfect wife and mother until she got mixed up with drugs and then she left everything behind. I would like to see her spend the rest of her life in prison."
Ballinger has remained in custody since her arrest in May.