By Dave Pearce
A rural Middle Mount Vernon Road resident has been arrested and charged with Unlawful Practice of Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Midwifery, or Acting as a Physician Without License, a Class D Felony.
According to the Probable Cause Affidavit, an arrest warrant was issued on Thursday, May 9, 2013, through the authority of Posey County Prosecutor Travis Clowers and Posey Superior Court stating that Alice M. Gates, of 10340 Middle Mount Vernon Road, Evansville, Ind., had been charged with the offenses.
The charges stem from an investigation which began in December of 2012 when Indiana State Police Officer Toni Walden learned that an infant female had been transported by ambulance from a rural Posey County home to St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville. The infant was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Walden said she was asked to assist in the investigation and drove to the home of Annika and James McDonald at 10032 Wolfinger Road in rural Posey County and met with the parents of the infant.
According to court records, the McDonalds told police that Annika had given birth to a daughter, Mara Josephine McDonald, at around 4 a.m. on Dec. 20, 2012, in the couple’s Posey County home with the assistance of a midwife, later identified as Alice M. Gates.
The McDonalds told police Gates’ name was given to them by another woman who had used Gates in their home births. Gates became involved in the pregnancy in about the ninth week. The McDonalds reported they had seen Gates at her home throughout the pregnancy and that they had also seen by a physician at around the 22nd week and again around the 34th week of the pregnancy. Each of the prenatal appointments with “the midwife” had occurred at Gates’ home.
Both parents told police that everything appeared normal and the child seemed fine at birth and appeared to be doing well throughout the day.
However, later that afternoon, the McDonalds reported that their daughter appeared to be having difficulty breathing and that they called Gates to report what they were seeing. Gates then returned to the McDonalds’ home and advised them that Mara was “having some respiratory distress but it wasn’t severe.” Both Gates and the McDonalds indicated that Gates told them they could either “watch her” in their home or take their daughter to the hospital. The McDonalds told police they believed it would be more stressful to take their daughter to the hospital and they believed they could watch and care for her at home. The McDonalds told police they each took “shifts” so they could watch their daughter.
Annika McDonald reported that she was with the child when she stopped breathing around 4 a.m. on Dec. 21, 2013. With no visible signs of trauma, an autopsy was performed in Vanderburgh County and the results showed that the infant died of respiratory arrest due to acute lobar pneumonia.
The autopsy affirmed there were no internal or external injuries to the child and that upon microscopic inspection, the doctor performing the autopsy found bacteria consistent with Streptococci which may have been the cause of death. The doctor listed the manner of death as “natural.”
Continuing the investigation, Officer Walden visited the Gates home and talked with the “midwife.” Although the officer reported that Gates was “evasive” about her answers, she did confirm that she had been there during the delivery of the child and had returned later that night to check on the child.
The officer specifically asked Gates if she was a “certified Midwife” to which Gates replied that Indiana does not have a licensure for midwives. The McDonalds contend that the recommendation of Gates was that she was a “certified Midwife.” The McDonalds contend they were never told that Gates was not a “certified Midwife.”
Furthermore, according to court records, the McDonalds contend that when Gates returned during the labored breathing, she advised them that they could take the baby to the hospital but that she would be put in an incubator in isolation where the McDonalds would be unable to touch her for several days. Mr. McDonald also told police that after Gates learned they were talking to police following the death of their child, Gates advised them to “tell them you don’t want to answer any more questions.”
Gates was arrested but was released on a $500 cash bond.
By Dave Pearce
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