Father on trial for murder of newborn after mother refused an abortion

A North Carolina man is accused of murdering one of his newborn children after the mother refused an abortion. Robert Middleton is currently facing first-degree murder charges, as well as charges of child abuse. The baby was just seven weeks old.

Takaylia Young, the mother of the children, testified against Middleton in the trial, which is currently taking place. Before dating Young, Middleton already had a daughter with someone else, so when Young became pregnant with their first child together, he coerced her into having an abortion. “He just told me that he wasn’t ready for another baby,” she said on the stand. She didn’t want to parent alone, and felt pressured — though she didn’t want an abortion.

“He wasn’t too happy about it,” she said of the pregnancy. “He said we’ll have to get an abortion. We would get into arguments about it. I was afraid of doing it on my own.” Later, she became pregnant again — this time with twins. And this time, she was determined to protect her children.

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“I was shocked at first, but I was really excited about having two babies,” she said, although Middleton again wanted her to have an abortion. “[W]e argued a lot about keeping the boys.” Young said that when she told him she was having twins, he hung up on her.

Young’s pregnancy was high risk, and she had to be hospitalized; eventually, she went into premature labor at 32 weeks. But the two boys, Devale and Deville, were otherwise doing well. “Devale means gift from God, and Deville means protector from God,” she said.

Shortly after birth, however, prosecutors said Middleton began abusing his sons. After 11 days, Young noticed something seemed wrong after spending a weekend with Middleton, and took the twins to the hospital. Both were found to have skull fractures and bleeding in their brains. Devale survived, but Deville did not.

Middleton has claimed the injuries were accidents, but prosecutor Debbie Gulledge said, “By the end of this trial, the picture will be clear, and that is that the defendant is guilty of what he has been charged with.”

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