Mother pleads guilty after stillborns found in tote in Park City |

Mother pleads guilty after stillborns found in tote in Park City

It was ‘a crime of a distraught mother,’ the defense attorney says

A woman from California in November pleaded guilty to a charge of abusing or desecrating a human body after she stored two stillborn children in a tote in Park City in 2015.

Molly Jojola, who is 28 years old and has a last known address in Lancaster, Calif., is scheduled to be sentenced in 3rd District Court at Silver Summit on Jan. 30. The count, a third-degree felony, is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The guilty plea involved a section of the state criminal code covering disturbing, moving, concealing or destroying a dead human body. A second count of abusing or desecrating a human body was dismissed.

Summit County prosecutors in a charging document said the Park City Police Department on Sept. 3, 2015 was called to a residence on Empire Avenue after Jojola's bedroom was cleaned and a tote was found in her closet that smelled terrible. Human remains were found in the tote. The prosecutors said a roommate of Jojola contacted her about the tote. She responded by saying the remains of two stillborn children were inside the tote, according to the charging document.

The Utah Office of the Medical Examiner determined the remains were those of two babies. The prosecutors said DNA tests found Jojola was the mother of both. Jojola told the police she had the first child in 2012 and did not realize she was pregnant until she had the baby in a shower. It was lifeless and not breathing, she told the police, indicating she put the body in a tote and took the tote when she moved to the Empire Avenue residence from another place in Summit County.

She had another stillborn baby in 2014 in a bathtub at the Empire Avenue residence and put the body in the same tote as the first one, the prosecutors said. She stored the tote in a closet underneath blankets, the charging document says.

Catherine Cleveland, Jojola's attorney, said the mother did not harm the children.

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"This is a crime of a distraught mother," Cleveland said.

Cleveland said she anticipates Jojola will receive therapy, the case will eventually be reduced to a class A misdemeanor once she completes the terms of her sentencing and then it will be expunged.

Joy Natale, the Summit County prosecutor, said she will wait until she receives a pre-sentencing report before she crafts a recommendation for sentencing. A pre-sentencing report would include the results of screenings or assessments and other information.