Midwife found guilty of manslaughter, faces a maximum sentence of 15 years

Vickie Sorensen listens to closing statements during the State of Utah v. Sorensen trial at the Fifth District Court in Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 27, 2016 | Photo by 5th District Court video pool (Jordan Allred), St. George News / Cedar City News
Mike Edwards, deputy county attorney, questions a witness during the State of Utah v. Sorensen trial at the Fifth District Court in Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 27, 2016 | Photo by 5th District Court video pool (Jordan Allred), St. George / Cedar City News
Mike Edwards, deputy county attorney, questions a witness during the State of Utah v. Sorensen trial at the Fifth District Court in Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 27, 2016 | Photo by 5th District Court video pool (Jordan Allred), St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – Supporters and family of a Cedar City midwife on trial for manslaughter burst into silent tears and quiet gasps Thursday after hearing the jury’s verdict – guilty as charged.

The reaction came after hearing the decision of the seven-member jury that deliberated for approximately four hours after sitting in on Vickie Dawn Sorensen’s trial for six days.

Jury members found the 56-year-old guilty on the second-degree manslaughter charge that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.

In addition, she was found guilty for one count of reckless endangerment, a Class A misdemeanor. Sorensen had been charged with two counts of reckless endangerment but was found not guilty on the second charge.

The case stems from 2014 when Sorensen was arrested in connection with the 2012 death of a premature infant of a pregnancy involving twins.

Prosecuting attorney Mike Edwards maintained the babies should have been delivered in a hospital that night on Dec. 18, 2012. Instead, he argued, Sorensen initiated the delivery of the first child, who was two months early, in her birth center without the proper skills or equipment necessary to deliver twins.

In his closing arguments, Edwards stressed that multiple witnesses had implied Sorensen knew the risks that night, including the likelihood the babies would have respiratory distress. Her decision was nothing short of negligent, he argued.

Edwards told the jury that more than anything Sorensen’s recklessness was apparent in her refusal to transport the mother to Dixie Regional Medical Center or Cedar City Hospital (then named Valley View Medical Center) even after hearing her complain of contractions at 33 weeks pregnant – seven weeks before her due date.

“Because equipment wasn’t available and the defendant failed to transport (the mother) sooner, (the victim) died,” Edwards argued.

Defense attorney Doug Terry, however, argued that Sorensen did everything she could to resuscitate the baby.

Terry maintained his client was anything but negligent and, in fact, had made a plan to slow the contractions down that night and get the mother to the hospital as quickly as possible given the winter weather outside the birth center.

“She had a plan, but (the victim) put a stop to that,” he said, arguing the mother did not want to go to the hospital.

The mother was transported to the Cedar City hospital by ambulance while still in labor. The first child was pronounced dead shortly after. The second baby was delivered by cesarean section and transported to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.

Sorensen waived her right to be sentenced within 45 days moving the sentencing scheduling to Jan. 10, 2017.

Judge James L. Shumate allowed the defendant to remain out of jail until then as her $50,000 bail was previously exonerated. She was ordered not to practice midwifery prior to sentencing.

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • RealMcCoy October 28, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Amazing.
    You can ‘negligently’ cook a baby in a car, and be pitied and given a #fundraiser, but you can also ‘negligently’ kill a baby on delivery and get 15 years?
    This midwife definitely should have done her practice in Hurricane.

    I’m glad justice was served in this case.
    I wish a real reporter would dig into the baby-cooker case. There are so many things that were buried there.

    • Bob October 28, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      We can be sure the baby-cooker was current on her tithing and recommend. do we know if this one was?

      • .... October 29, 2016 at 6:56 am

        Well gee whiz Boob .oops I mean Bob. put on your tin foil hat and go stand up on top of your house and maybe by looking for UFO’S you will be able to get your mind off of who’s up 2 date on their tithing. ..what happened boob. did the tithing people hurt your feelings .LOL !

      • ladybugavenger October 29, 2016 at 10:36 am

        It’s obvious Bob, that this women was not a faithful Mormon member and lapsed on her tithing

    • ladybugavenger October 28, 2016 at 7:41 pm

      Amen

  • Bob October 28, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    maybe she did it because she was a socialist

    • .... October 28, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      Awwww what’s that matter Bob did the socialist people hurt your feelings !

  • Wolverine October 31, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Tragic results for both parties. I’m certain NO midwife wants to loose a baby in childbirth, it’s a tragic circumstance for all involved. They are in this field to help guide babies into the world safely and with love. Mothers seeking a home or natural birth are doing so to avoid unnecessary medical procedures and ridiculously over priced unneeded services that seem to be the norm. Women have been giving birth without the assistance of modern medicine and surgical centers for centuries, with success and loss. The same can be said for births in a hospital, some babies live and some don’t make it.
    I feel we are not in the court room, and should not be too quick to judge the actual events and circumstances that took place. We are reading a couple of news articles and making a judgement on something we know very little about.
    It’s tragic that a baby did not survive, it’s tragic that a person that sought to help guide a baby into the world lost one. I’m sure a Dr. in an operating room feels the same way when this happens.
    Please consider this when making your tasteless comments when you trivialize a tragic occurrence with jokes and mean insinuations. The parents of the lost child and the Midwife will be saddened by this event forever, of that I am certain.

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