A drug-addicted mother whose neglected baby was found covered with maggots three days after his birth last summer has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for child abuse.
Tears streaked the thin face of Margo Bryant, 28, as she pleaded with Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Hilary D. Caplan to give her a light sentence.
"Your honor, I know what I did was wrong," said Bryant, who has tried to kick a cocaine habit with acupuncture treatment. "I can't change what I did."
Caplan shot back: "You're lucky you're not here on a murder charge."
"I think she needs some of what I consider to be hard education," the judge said as he imposed the prison term Monday. "I just can't let this lady walk by the wayside."
The crying baby, weighing 4.8 pounds, was found Aug. 18 on a soiled blanket. "The placenta was covered with maggots . . . there was feces all over," prosecutor Peggy Mainor said.
The newborn was discovered by a neighbor who had a key to Bryant's home in the 4000 block of Boarman Ave., court records said. The baby was on the floor of an unventilated den in the summer heat. His umbilical cord was still attached and maggots crawled on his body.
Bryant lived with her four children -- all under 10 years of age -- in the filthy, sparsely furnished apartment with no gas or electricity.
When paramedics arrived at Sinai Hospital with the baby, Bryant was there with her 8-year-old son, who had been struck by a car earlier that day. The baby was treated for dehydration and insect bites, court records show.
"I was scared. I didn't want to hurt the baby," Bryant told doctors, according to court records.
Mainor said the child is "doing very, very well" in a foster home. Bryant's three other children also were placed in foster homes.
Kirk Osborn, an assistant public defender, suggested his client be punished with probation, not incarceration. Originally, Bryant was charged with attempted murder. She pleaded guilty to a count of child abuse last month.
She has been counseled for "long-standing psychiatric and substance-abuse problems," said Osborn, who plans to file a motion for a reduced sentenced.
"She's given up the drugs. She's gained some insight," Osborn said.
Bryant abused cocaine during pregnancy and she feared giving birth in a hospital, Osborn said. One of Bryant's friends told her that she would be "incarcerated for decades" if doctors detected drugs in the baby's system, he said, adding: "She was scared to death."