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Stephanie Rochester legally insane when she smothered her baby, says state psych evaluation

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In June 2010, Stephanie Rochester was accused of smothering her infant son, allegedly because she feared he was autistic. A year later, a state psychiatric evaluation still hadn't taken place due to systemic delays. But the report's finally in -- and Rochester's been determined to have been legally insane at the time of the killing.

According to the arrest affidavit on view below, Stephanie reported feeling anxious and depressed for several weeks prior to the death of her six-month old son, Rylan -- and when her husband, Lloyd, was out of town for a late May business trip, she became increasingly concerned the baby was showing signs of autism. She said his eyes would roll to the side and his hands would shake. Internet research into autism only increased her fears.

Upon Lloyd's return, they took Rylan to the hospital to check out a case of thrush and his lack of appetite, but received a clean bill of health. Still, she wasn't comforted -- and so on the fateful day, the affidavit says she put a plastic bag over Rylan's head, plus a blanket on top. She removed the bag a short time later and said Rylan was still breathing. But after eating dinner with Lloyd, during which she drank a glass of wine and talked about selling their house, she went back upstairs and placed three folded baby blankets on Rylan's face.

The child was reportedly still alive but unresponsive the next time Rochester checked on him -- so she put some adult blankets over his head. The next morning, after briefly contemplating suicide, she finally alerted Lloyd and they drove Rylan to the hospital. But the boy could not be revived.

Shortly thereafter, Rochester was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one of child abuse resulting in death. But if the insanity report from the Colorado Mental Health Institute sticks, reports the Boulder Daily Camera, a trial on these counts probably would not take place. Instead, prosecutors would strike a deal with Rochester to admit she caused the baby's death, after which she would be placed in a mental facility until she was no longer a threat to anyone, including herself; following her arrest, she was put on suicide watch.

At this point, the Boulder District Attorney's Office representatives haven't decided whether to accept the state's ruling or seek a second opinion. Look below to read the arrest affidavit:

Stephanie Rochester Arrest Affidavit

More from our Comment of the Day archive: "Reader: Stephanie Rochester's autism fears are understandable even though she did wrong thing."

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