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Unlicensed Nebraska midwife found not guilty of felony child abuse in Douglas County court

By Alex McLoon

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    DOUGLAS COUNTY, Nebraska (KETV) — An unlicensed midwife was not guilty of felony child abuse resulting in death Friday at the Douglas County courthouse.

What happened was “tragic,” the judge said, but added that the state failed to prove that Angela acted criminally — “that is negligently caused or permitted the minor child Vera to be placed in a situation that endangered her safety or physical health, or deprived her of necessary care.”

“Angela Hock’s actions were not criminally negligent,” the judge said while reading the verdict.

In closing arguments, prosecutors alleged Hock is negligent for not giving baby Vera Noe’s parents, Emily and Crayton Noe, enough information to make an informed decision about their breech birth — happening in their home — and if they should have gone to a hospital.

“Angee Hock said, ‘You got two choices, you can go to the hospital, or we can stay home and deliver because I know how to do breeched deliveries,'” prosecutor Amy Jacobsen said.

“Over the last three days, the state has failed to prove a single element in the charge against Mrs. Hock,” defense attorney Keith Dornan said.

In June 2019, a breech baby was starting to be delivered feet-first at the Noes’ Omaha home. Prosecutors allege Hock is negligent for not giving the parents enough info about how to proceed. The parents opted to stay at their home instead of at a hospital.

In this week’s trial, attorneys say the mother — Emily Noe — was too traumatized to testify in court. But the mother said in a 2019 police interview that she has PTSD triggered by hospitals, which is why she preferred an at-home birth from the start.

When Hock couldn’t deliver the baby, she ordered her doula to call 911.

Medics testified this week that they weren’t aware of who Hock was, nor her credentials to deliver a breech baby at home. They delivered baby Vera Noe in an ambulance en route to a hospital, working to keep her alive.

The baby needed life support, and medical experts soon after informed the family would have to take their newborn off life support. Vera died two days after her birth.

Defense attorneys argued the family had the freedom to choose an at-home birth and said ambulance medics played a part in the death.

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