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Trial begins in killing of pregnant woman

Julie Corey is charged with killing a pregnant woman and cutting the unborn child from the womb to pass her off as her own.

Julie Corey is charged with killing a pregnant woman and cutting the unborn child from the womb to pass her off as her Rick Cinclair/Worcester Telegram & Gazette

WORCESTER — A 39-year-old woman who had a miscarriage killed a pregnant woman to steal her baby and pass it off as her own, prosecutors said Monday, during opening statements in Julie Corey’s murder trial.

Corey’s “intention was to take the baby away from Darlene Haynes,” prosecutor Daniel Bennett told a jury in Worcester Superior Court.

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Corey is accused of beating and strangling Haynes, 23, in the younger woman’s apartment in July 2009, and cutting the unborn child from her womb. Corey and her boyfriend were found with the baby girl a few days later at a homeless shelter in New Hampshire.

“The baby was Darlene Haynes’s,” Bennett said.

Haynes, a former neighbor and acquaintance of Corey’s, was eight months pregnant. Corey miscarried in April, but continued to tell people she was pregnant with a girl, authorities say.

Sitting beside her lawyers, Corey showed no emotion in court.

Bennett said Haynes was a slow, simple person who was “looking for friends” and would often knock on her neighbors’ doors to strike up conversations. On the day Haynes was killed, Corey had given Haynes a ride to the liquor store, and authorities said Corey’s fingerprint was later found on a wine cooler in Haynes’s apartment.

That night, Corey called her boyfriend, Alex Dion, to tell him her water had broken, Bennett said.

Corey told him she would drive herself to the hospital and later called to tell him he was the father of a “new baby girl.” When Corey returned home, the baby still had blood on it, Bennett said.

Bennett said that Corey’s relationship with her boyfriend was tumultuous and that they had broken up before Corey told him she was pregnant.

Over the next few days, Corey introduced the newborn to friends and family while Haynes’s body lay wrapped in bedding in Haynes’s bedroom closet, Bennett said.

Corey later persuaded her boyfriend to go with her to New Hampshire, saying she knew a place they could stay and that her father could get him a job.

Haynes’s decomposing body was found several days after the killing by her landlord, who said he had received complaints of a terrible odor. Haynes was killed by blunt force trauma that “caved in the back of her head,” Bennett said.

When it was his turn to address the jury, Corey’s lawyer, Michael Wilcox, said that despite the gruesome nature of the crime Haynes’s blood was never found on Corey or in her car.

“The evidence is lacking,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox also told jurors that police failed to scrutinize other potential suspects, including Haynes’s boyfriend, who had “brutalized women in his life” and had a poor alibi.

“There is no question that the police did not complete a thorough investigation here,” Wilcox said. “Leads were not followed.”

No physical evidence linked Corey to the blood-stained bedroom where Haynes’s body was found, Wilcox said, and no murder weapon was discovered.

“You are going to hear that much was left undone here,” Wilcox told the jury.

The child, now 4, is living with her biological father.

Haynes’s landlord took the witness stand Monday. William Thompson said he had initiated eviction proceedings against Haynes for not paying rent and that she was supposed to be out by the end of the month.

He said Haynes and Corey had previously lived across the hall from each other, and that he sometimes saw them together. Their boyfriends also knew each other, he testified.

Jessica Jackson, a friend of Corey’s, testified that when Corey introduced her to the baby, the baby was very small and had a string tied around the base of her umbilical cord.

On Tuesday, the jury is scheduled to visit the crime scene. The trial is expected to last between two and three weeks.

Peter Schworm can be reached at peter.schworm@globe.com.
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