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Mother pleads guilty to third degree murder; neither parent now faces death penalty

By Fritz Mayer
September 11, 2012

Jennifer Barrise has pleaded guilty to murder in the third degree bringing a close to the prosecution of the couple that were accused of killing their newborn daughter on May 28, 2011. The father, Christopher Fitzpatrick pleaded guilty to murder in the first degree in March.

After agreeing to testify against Barrise, Fitzpatrick was sentenced to life in prison; sentencing for Barrise is scheduled for December 6.

According to court documents, the couple already had a one-year-old son. They believed they could not afford a second child, and also could not afford an abortion. Barrise gave birth to Jacquelin Amber Barrise in the couple’s car. Fitzpatrick reportedly told Barrise, "I gotta do what I gotta do." Fitzpatrick’s 11-year-old sister was also in the car during the birth.

Fitzpatrick then dropped off Barrise and his sister at the couple’s home. He then drove the infant to a wooded area behind a business at 1178 Hamlin Highway in Lake Ariel, where he worked at a lawn maintenance company. Once there, he was accused of twice dropping a cinder block on the infant, resulting in death.

The investigation started when state police were notified by the Sussex County, NJ Sheriff’s Department. They were able to provide state police with information that they received from family members, which came from Fitzpatrick’s sister, about their suspicions on the baby’s welfare.

When police arrived at Fitzpatrick’s workplace, he led them to the body and later admitted to the murder. The arrest took place on June 10, just a few days after the killing.
Barrise was arrested because she admitted that she knew that Fitzpatrick intended to kill the child. As a result of her plea, she will no longer be under threat of receiving the death penalty.