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Former inmate sues county over dead baby

A Hampton woman who gave premature birth while an inmate at the Clayton County Jail blames the county and the sheriff for failing to provide adequate care for her and the unborn fetus, which died about 75 minutes later.

DeShawn Nicole Balka, 25, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Clayton County State Court, seeking more than $25,000 in damages. Balka claims that she went into labor April 28, five and a half months into her pregnancy, and that corrections officers failed to render her aid.

Balka alleges in the suit that jail officials ignored her repeated requests for medical attention. She said she gave birth to a boy about 4:15 a.m. while sitting on the cell toilet. The two were taken to Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, where the fetus was pronounced dead about 5:30 a.m., according to the lawsuit.

Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough declined to comment on the filing.

Balka’s first brush with the law in Clayton happened Jan. 16, 2011, when she was arrested for tampering with evidence and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Police said Balka concealed the drugs with the intent to obstruct the prosecution of Antoine Flood. She pleaded guilty as a first offender July 7, 2011, and was sentenced to 12 months probation. Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons also ordered Balka to pay a $250 fine and undergo drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment.

Balka’s public defender, Lloyd Matthews, told Simmons that she was a nursing student at Medtech in Morrow and was “anxious” to keep the crime off her record.

Court records show that a warrant for Balka’s arrest for violation of probation was issued April 9. Probation officials alleged in documents that Balka tested positive for drugs more than once since January, failed to report as required and was $729.50 in arrears.

Balka was locked up April 18 and released April 30 after Simmons revoked her probation. Simmons ordered that Balka return to the original order of probation, with two months and 28 days remaining. That period ends this week.

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