ELIZABETHTOWN, NC (WWAY) -- A Bladen County family can start the healing process after a judge ruled the 2011 death of a nine-day-old girl was an accident.
In August 2011 Addyson Camerino was just nine days old when her mom, 18-year-old Chelsea Brigman, left her sleeping in her carrier while she took a shower. Investigators say that's when the family's five dogs mauled the infant to death. It led investigators to charge Brigman with involuntary manslaughter.
"Any time we have a case involving a child that is so vulnerable, we have pledged to our community that children should grow up in a safe and injury-free environment," Assistant District Attorney Tripp Watson said.
After a week long trial at the Bladen County Courthouse, Judge Ronal Stephens granted a mistrial after jurors could not reach a verdict after six hours of deliberations. Judge Stephens then granted a motion to dismiss all charges in the case. He said that even if jurors had reached a guilty verdict, he would have set aside that verdict and sent the case directly to the appellate court.
"If the judge decides the evidence was just insufficient or perhaps the jury had made an incorrect decision, they can set the verdict aside, but I don't remember the last time that's happened for me in 29 years," Brigman's attorney Butch Pope said.
Prosecutors decided not to appeal the dismissal, which means this case is closed.
What's not closed, though, is a mother's grief.
"Her whole world changed forever," Pope said. "I don't know that any of us can imagine what they have been through, but I don't know that chelsea will ever fully get over the loss of that baby."
Prosecutors have also dropped involuntary manslaughter charges against Brigman's father-in-law and co-defendant Nelson Camerino.
Brigman left court quickly after the judge's ruling. Her family did not want to comment.