The Penn Yan woman faces one count of criminally negligent homicide and multiple other charges connected to her assisting with home births
PENN YAN — As a crowd of about 100 including a documentary film crew watched, Elizabeth Catlin, 54, of Penn Yan, Tuesday entered a plea of not guilty to all 95 felony counts leveled against her in relation to assisting women with in home births when she appeared in Yates County Court .
But before she entered her plea, and before Judge Jason L. Cook entered the courtroom, the crowd sang a verse of "Amazing Grace."
Catlin was indicted Dec. 16, 2019 on:
• one count of criminally negligent homicide (a class E felony);
• one count of unauthorized practice of a profession (class E felony);
• 31 counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument (class D felony);
• 31 counts of second-degree identity theft (class E felony); and
• 31 counts of first degree falsifying business records (class E felony).
Catlin was released on her own recognizance by Judge Cook, who also ordered the $15,000 bail, that had previously been posted in Penn Yan Village Court, to be transferred to Yates County Court and then exonerated.
No trial date was set, but the case will return for argument of motions April 14.
A request by Catlin's attorney, David Morabito, for an extended time to file motions was denied by the judge, who said he could apply for an extension as the April 14 date nears.
The case dates back to an investigation begun before Catlin was first arrested Nov. 14, 2018 by New York State Police.
In December, Yates County District Attorney Todd Casella said the indictment stems from a coordinated investigation by the New York State Police, New York Education Department, and the District Attorney’s Office into the unlawful practice of the profession of midwifery.
The criminally negligent homicide charge stems from the October 2018 death of a baby after she transported a laboring woman to F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua. The baby was born there, but died on the way to Strong Memorial Hospital.
Catlin has been under a court order since late 2018 to cease assisting women with home birthing.
The Catlin case has drawn attention from regional and national media because of its impact on local maternity care at a time when there is already a shortage of professionals, and especially midwives who will support women delivering babies in homes.
Includes reporting by Chronicle-Express writer John Christensen