Probation for mom in McDonald’s birth

Sarah Lockner

Daily Post Staff Writer

A woman who was accused of attempting to drown her newborn boy after giving birth in a McDonald’s bathroom in Redwood City was freed yesterday (May 3) after she was sentenced to five years of probation, a prosecutor said.

Judge Stephanie Garratt also ordered Sarah Lockner, 26, to take a parents’ counseling course and to follow all visitation rulings from the family court. Garratt said that if Lockner violates any part of her probation, she will be sent to prison for four years.

On Sept. 4, 2017, Lockner was at work at the McDonald’s at 185 Chestnut St. in Redwood City when she began to suffer from stomach cramps and feel warm and fatigued. Lockner told police she felt like she needed to use the restroom and that she had excruciating menstrual cramps.

But after using the bathroom, Lockner noticed an umbilical cord and a newborn baby face down in the toilet. A co-worker allegedly saw Lockner attempting to drown the baby.

Lockner is getting probation after serving a year and eight months in county jail since her arrest.

Lockner’s attorney, Jonathan McDougall, had sought the probation sentence, while District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe’s office argued Lockner should receive four years in prison.

Arguments against prison

In his sentencing memo, McDougall argued that prison time for Lockner would not be just, and that probation would “serve to protect the community, aid in the parental needs of the boys and serve the interests of punishment.”

McDougall also argued that if family court rules that Lockner can see her boys while in county jail or on probation, that requirement would disappear if she was sent to prison.

“Without question, Ms. Lockner’s actions nearly cost the life of her infant son. In addition, her failures have also forever impacted her older son, Andrew, as he has not had his mother with him for most of the past two years,” McDougall wrote in his memo. “As seen by those closest to her, Ms. Lockner’s actions are not the true person they know and love. She has accepted responsibility and devoted herself to becoming a better mother, and preventing any similar acts from ever occurring again.”

Lockner gave birth to her other son, Andrew, in a similar fashion four years ago at home. Both times she wasn’t aware she was pregnant before giving birth, Lockner told the investigating officer. McDou- gall also suggested that Garratt require Lockner to take “medically approved contraceptives to ensure another similar incident does not occur.”

Lockner’s sentence requires her to follow all of the medical directives of probation, according to Wag- staffe. He said it was not clear whether that meant she must take contraceptives.

‘Pregnancy denial’ claim

Sharon Cho, Wagstaffe’s deputy assigned to the case, argued in her sentencing memo that Lockner ought to have received four years in prison. Cho’s memo questions the claims made by McDougall that Lockner experienced something called “pregnancy denial” and quoted multiple articles that question the validity of those who claim pregnancy denial.

Cho also questioned the reasoning as to why Lock- ner had a garbage bag in the bathroom stall with her.

The defense claimed that Lockner had intended to clean out her car after she had gone to Target on her break at McDonald’s and bought menstrual pads and a garbage bag. Lockner took out one of the bags, shook it and put it in her pocket. But she never cleaned her car, because she did not feel well enough to do so, according to the defense.

In the bathroom, Lockner took the bag out of her pocket with the idea of using it as a blanket to keep her baby warm. However, instead of wrapping the baby in the blanket, she allegedly put the baby’s face down in the toilet, according to Cho’s memo.

Judge: It’s not a ‘mistake’

Garratt said at the sentencing yesterday that she agrees more with Cho’s assessment of the case, and doesn’t buy that Lockner didn’t know she was pregnant, Wagstaffe said.

Garratt also mentioned that she did not like Lockner calling the incident a “mistake.”

While Garratt said she sides mostly with the prosecution’s analysis of the case, her goal is to make sure Lockner never does anything like this again, and thinks that probation is sufficient, Wagstaffe said.

At the sentencing yesterday, Lockner spoke and apologized for her actions and asked the judge for an- other chance. She also said she would not do anything like this again.

The baby Lockner gave birth to, Adrian, is now 19 months old and has been living with his father’s aunt. He has shown no signs of developmental disabilities, Wagstaffe said.


  1. What would prison accomplish in this case? I don’t think there are moms who are considering killing their kids but stop because they worry about going to prison. A mother who does this has a psychiatric issue that needs to be addressed. I hope that happens in this case. Judge Garrett made the right call.

  2. Judge Garratt made a reasoned decision based upon the fact of this incredibly unique case. It’s easy to default to the maximum sentence, it takes some stones to do a full analysis and look at what is right for society as a whole.

  3. So if you can come up with a story that makes you look “ill” instead of evil you can walk away. Clearly, she attempted premeditated murder, and she should be punished accordingly. Those boys will never be safe with her and they would be much better off being adopted.

    Justice was not done in this case. I wonder how those poor kids will turn out with this monster of a mother who still has access to them.

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