Mother of Chipley Baby Now Free After Plea Deal

By: Vanessa Nguyen Email
By: Vanessa Nguyen Email
Chipley - The mother accused of conspiring to hide her 7-month-old baby is now a free woman.  26-year-old Crystina Mercer was released from the Washington County Jail Friday after pleading

Crystina Lynn Mercer

Chipley - The mother accused of conspiring to hide her 7-month-old baby is now a free woman.

26-year-old Crystina Mercer was released from the Washington County Jail Friday after pleading 'no contest' to a single misdemeanor count of giving False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer.

In return the state dropped Interference with Custody and Making a False 911 Call charges.

NewsChannel 7 was the only one in the courtroom Friday morning when the deal was struck.

October 29th, 2010 was a day 26-year-old Crystina Mercer was looking forward to.

It was the last day she would spend in the Washington County Jail.

County Judge Colby Peel asks, "you wish to plead no contest as to count four which is false report of a crime to a law enforcement officer, is that correct?"

"Yes sir," replies Mercer.

The State Attorney's Office agreed to accept this deal, dropping the charges of Interference with Custody and Making a False 911 Call.

Assistant State Attorney Greg Wilson says there was no evidence to support the two felonies.

"Once we completed the investigation, the only evidence that was ever presented was testimony from Susan Baker, there was nothing to independently corroborate anything that Susan Baker said as far as any conspiracy."

Susan Baker was Dedrick's babysitter.

Authorities found Baby Shannon in Baker's home five days after the child was reported missing.

She was stuffed in a two-by-three-foot wooden box under Baker's bed.

Jurors convicted Baker earlier this month for Interference with Custody, Giving False Information and Aggravated Child Abuse.

Wilson also prosecuted Baker.

He says Mercer's diminished mental capacity was another factor for brokering a plea deal.

"That was proven in the Baker trial, all the witnesses testified that she basically functioned on a 12-year-old level, the only law that she violated was in providing false information to law enforcement and that was when she told the officers she may have placed the baby in the woods, she may have placed the baby in a van and all those crazy statements she made which made law enforcement continue to search that area."

Judge Peel sentenced Mercer to the maximum penalty allowed, 11 months, 29 days.

But since Mercer has been in jail since her arrest on November 4, 2009, she was released immediately.

Baker's sentencing is scheduled for November 8th.

She could receive up to 35 years.

Mercer declined our request for an interview.

Baby Shannon Dedrick remains in private foster care with the Department of Children and Family Services.


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