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NMB woman guilty of homicide by child abuse for dumping 2 newborns

Alyssa Dayvault. Dayvault's home. (Credit: J. Rueben Long Detention Center/WPDE)
Alyssa Dayvault. Dayvault's home. (Credit: J. Rueben Long Detention Center/WPDE)
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Guilty -- the fate of a North Myrtle Beach woman who dumped two newborns in the trash has been decided by a jury of her peers.

The trial for Alyssa Dayvault began earlier this week, and she has was a no-show all week for the proceedings.

After about an hour of deliberation, the jury found Dayvault guilty of homicide by child abuse in 2017 and in 2018.

RELATED: Police, doctors testify in trial of NMB woman accused of dumping two newborns

Brooke Holden, spokesperson for the Horry County Sheriff's Office, says deputies are actively searching for Dayvault; a bench warrant for failure to appear was issued Monday. That bench warrant has been extended so she can be extradited from anywhere in the country and brought back to Horry County. If you have any information on her whereabouts, authorities encourage you to contact them.

The details of her sentence are held until she's located.

After the verdict was announced, Chris Matechen, Dayvault's ex-boyfriend and the father of those two deceased babies, spoke before the court.

"For two years now I've been living with this burden with no type of closure or anything like that," Matechen said. "Now hopefully with this, it'll be a little easier for me and my family to get through this."

He called the case the hardest thing his family's ever had to deal with.

"But hearing that justice is coming to her makes it a little easier to comprehend," he said. However, justice cannot be served until she is located.

Matechen's father highlighted that when he also spoke before the court. He said the justice system worked in convicting Dayvault, but also failed in a big way.

"Our emotions are shot. We haven't eaten in three days," he said. "We went through all of this with whatever it cost the taxpayers. There's an empty seat over there. Somebody messed up. That's the part that really now keeps us up at night."

The Public Defender's Office declined to comment on Dayvault's absence.

RELATED: Detectives found body of baby boy in mother's North Myrtle Beach home

On Thursday, the state presented its final witness, Nicholas Batalis, a forensic pathologist for the Medical University of South Carolina.

Batalis said he had examined the body of the baby boy that police had found in a trash can outside Dayvault's residence in late 2018.

He said all of his examinations indicated the baby was healthy and carried to full-term.

"There was essentially no explanation for the child's death based on anything we could find externally on the body, internally on the body," Batalis testified. "We're essentially left with what appeared to be a perfectly normal-looking term fetus."

In their cross-examination of Batalis, the defense focused on the fact that neither he nor any of the other state's witnesses could say what the cause or manner of the baby boy's death was. The defense focused on that on Wednesday, as well, when several law enforcement officers and police officers testified.

The defense did not present any witnesses and asked the judge for a directed verdict.

A directed verdict is when the judge decides there is not enough evidence for the jury to reach a different conclusion.

The judge denied the request for a directed verdict, saying "there is more than sufficient evidence."

In their closing arguments, the state said by concealing her pregnancies, Dayvault prevented any help from coming to those children.

"The crime was committed at the time she decided, ' I don't want anybody to help these children,'" the state's attorney said. "We know we don't put human beings in trash bags and we certainly don't do it twice."

The state also said to the jury that they presented direct evidence the baby boy was alive at the time he was placed in the trash bag. Two of their witnesses testified that there appeared to be meconium in the trash bag. Meconium is a baby's first bowel movement. The state said evidence of meconium in the trash bag indicates he must have been living at the time he had been placed in the bag.

In the defense's closing arguments, they said that the circumstances in which Dayvault gave birth were not "ideal," but they also weren't illegal.

"It's not child neglect to not seek prenatal care when there's no problems with the pregnancy. It's not ideal but it's not against the law," the public defender said.

The defense also mentioned that one of the state's witnesses said Dayvault had shown indications of having hypertension and anorexia when she was pregnant with the baby girl in 2017 -- two conditions that doctors said can complicate pregnancies.

The defense also said the state failed to produce a single witness that said if Dayvault had called EMS, it would've saved the lives of either of the babies.

The jury had to determine whether the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Dayvault caused the death of a child under the age of 11 while committing child abuse or neglect. Child abuse or neglect is defined as an act or failure to act that causes harm to a child's health or physical welfare.

Warrants show Dayvault gave birth on or about Dec. 2 or 3, 2018, at her home on Oak Street in North Myrtle Beach.

North Myrtle Beach police say Dayvault admitted she birthed a newborn male at her home and stated the child was born alive and took multiple gasping breaths after being born. Police found the body about a week later after searching her home.

RELATED: Woman accused of trashing 2 newborns rejects plea deal

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Dayvault is also accused of doing the same thing to a female child she birthed in 2017 at an apartment on David Street in North Myrtle Beach.

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