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‘Weird’ mom charged with leaving newborn to die alone in snow-covered trash bag complains her bond is too high

Megan Staude

Megan Staude appears in court alongside attorney (image via KCAU screengrab)

An Iowa woman accused of giving birth to baby boy at a dilapidated residence and, with the alleged help of her father, leaving the newborn to die alone in a snow-covered trash bag has failed to convince a judge to lower her million-dollar bond.

Megan Katherine Staude, 25, had argued through an attorney that her $1 million bond was “constitutionally excessive” and violated Eighth Amendment prohibitions against excessive fines and bail, but KCCI reported that this constitutional argument fell flat in court on Monday. The defense also asserted that the accused, who has neither a license to drive nor a passport, was not a flight risk and presented no threat to the broader community, but Staude remains jailed ahead of trial in Warren County.

As Law&Crime reported previously on the case, Staude and her 64-year-old father Rodney A. Staude were charged with first-degree murder after the baby born at the “unsafe to occupy” residence on Feb. 24 was found dead on the side of a snowy road early March in Norwalk. KCCI’s cameras showed cats crawling on the roof at the condemned home, where windows had been boarded up.

Cats walk on the roof of the Staude residence (KCCI screengrab)

Cats walk on the roof of the Staude residence (KCCI screengrab)

The defendants, when pressed by police investigators, allegedly lied before admitting that they placed the still-living newborn in a trash bag and left that bag in a ditch on Feb. 26. Megan Staude also allegedly admitted she placed the child in a box for two days after he was born without providing parental care, KCAU 9 News reported.

Pictured: Boarded up Staude residence (KCCI screengrab)

Pictured: Boarded up Staude residence (KCCI screengrab)

The case was particularly disturbing to investigators who pointed out that the grandfather and his daughter would have been immunized from prosecution if they had only left the baby at an authorized Safe Haven location.

“On March 8th, the Norwalk Police Department was contacted with concerns for the safety of a child in Norwalk,” the Norwalk Police Department said, after Megan Staude’s co-workers noticed she was no longer pregnant and allegedly told a story that didn’t make sense.

Rodney Staude, Megan Staude

Rodney Staude, Megan Staude (Warren County Sheriff’s Office)

At least one neighbor interviewed after the suspects were arrested said he was “appalled” but “[n]ot really surprised,” as he thought that Raudney Staude and his daughter “were kinda weird.”

Investigators alleged that Rodney Staude helped Megan Staude abandon the baby in a ditch along Delaware Street in Warren County, rather than bringing the child to a Safe Haven, as defined by Iowa law.

 (KCCI screengrab)

(KCCI screengrab)

Under the Safe Haven Act, the defendants could have left the newborn “at a hospital or health care facility without fear of prosecution for abandonment” for up to 90 days after the baby’s birth.

In a prior phone interview with Law&Crime, Norwalk Police Chief Greg Staples said that a cadaver dog named Montana found the baby covered in snow.

“Safe Haven laws are there for a reason,” Staples said at the time. “It is a shame that because the Safe Haven laws weren’t used in this case we have the death of a newborn and two people in jail charged with the most serious crime that there is.”

Both Rodney Staude and Megan Staude have pleaded not guilty in the first-degree murder case.

Megan Staude is reportedly expected in court next on July 1o.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.