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Woman indicted after fetal remains discovered

CHESTERFIELD (AP) A woman has been indicted on a felony charge after police found fetal remains buried in a backyard last year.

Police obtained a search warrant for 43-year-old Michelle F. Roberts’ Richmond-area residence in February 2016 after receiving a tip from the mother of her incarcerated boyfriend and the likely father, Danny Coppola. Multiple news outlets report Roberts had shared news of her pregnancy in July 2015, but was not pregnant a few weeks later. Police said forensic analysis indicated the fetus was in its third trimester and had been buried five to six months before being found.

Roberts had been taking low doses of methadone since 2012, provided by a local treatment center.

Roberts and her adult daughter offered differing accounts disputing the charge. Court records indicate that Roberts told Coppola’s mother the baby was born at the residence and took a single breath, at which point Roberts passed out and her daughter buried the baby. Her daughter says she helped Roberts deliver a stillborn boy, whom Roberts buried in the backyard as a tribute, unaware it was illegal.

The felony charge accuses Roberts of acting with “intent to destroy her unborn child.” If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

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