Judge closes hearing for woman accused of killing baby

Closed hearing for Chesterfield woman accused of killing baby

CHERAW, S.C. — A mother accused of killing her baby, then claiming the child was kidnapped was supposed to be in court Wednesday but didn't show up.

Her hearing had been closed to news reporters at the last minute.

Eyewitness News reporter Greg Suskin was in Cheraw for the update on the major case.

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He was told the hearing would be open but when his TV crew arrived at the magistrate's office, prosecutors asked the judge to close the hearing to everyone but the lawyers involved.

Breanna Lewis' family was also not allowed to stay.

Prosecutors told the judge the murder was still under investigation, witnesses were still being interviewed and they believed media attention would harm their case.

Chesterfield County sheriff's deputies said on May 29 that Lewis called 911 and made up a story that someone had assaulted her outside her rural home and kidnapped her baby.

That led to an Amber Alert, which was canceled when deputies said Lewis admitted she made up the abduction.

That same day, 11-month-old Harlee Lewis was found dead and wrapped in plastic inside a diaper box near the home.

Lewis was later charged with murder.

A judge placed a gag order on the case so attorneys, law enforcement officers and family members could not speak about it.

The gag order was still in effect Wednesday when the judge told eight news reporters and photographers to leave the courtroom after prosecutors made a motion to close the hearing to the public.

Suskin asked the judge to reconsider and tried to argue for the public interest in the case, but the ruling was unchanged.

Because of that judge's gag order, the child's cause of death has still not been released.

Suskin checked with the coroner Wednesday afternoon, and he still can't comment on it.

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