Teen painted as deceitful, scared

Girl killed her newborn son and lied to her mother and baby's father, prosecutor says

January 26, 2007|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,sun reporter

A newborn baby either drowned in the toilet where he was born or smothered in the trash bag where his 17-year-old mother placed him before stuffing the bag in a can outside, an Anne Arundel County prosecutor said yesterday.

Megan Rene Patria was alternately portrayed in a hearing as a liar so self-absorbed that she touted her slimmer figure a day after the Dec. 3, 2005, birth, and as a scared teen who panicked when her mother - who didn't know she was pregnant - came home after the delivery.

County Circuit Judge Nancy Davis-Loomis is expected to decide Wednesday whether Patria, charged with second-degree murder and related counts, will be tried as an adult or a juvenile, which would reduce the potential punishment.

The pretrial hearing revealed the most detailed evidence yet against 18-year-old Patria, formerly of Arnold and now living in Nottingham, and previewed the defense's approach.

Assistant State's Attorney Laura S. Kiessling said Patria lied to school officials and her mother about her pregnancy, had told the baby's father that she had "taken care of" the pregnancy and went online to learn how to abort the baby.

The prosecutor said Patria left the baby in the toilet about 10 or so minutes before placing the newborn on a towel on her bed. As she cleaned up, her mother came home and she threw the baby into the trash, Kiessling said. She was described as "happy and laughing" when dining at a restaurant the next day, the prosecutor said.

The mother of one of Patria's friends called police, but Patria denied there was a baby. When Patria's mother - a civilian employee of the county Police Department - confronted her, she acknowledged the infant, and police were asked to return to the home, Kiessling said.

Department of Juvenile Justice social worker Jennifer Beard, who treated Patria, recommended the case go to juvenile court, which Kiessling opposed.

A juvenile court judge who holds Patria responsible for her baby's death could order authorities to supervise her until she is 21. But Beard said Maryland lacks a juvenile facility for her. Kiessling said that supervision in the community amounts to probation, and she said that she found probation for a killer disturbing. The maximum sentence for a conviction of second-degree murder is 30 years in prison.

She had developed an attachment to the baby midway through the pregnancy, Beard said. But she was "psychologically unable" to admit her pregnancy to her mother, she said.

Patria's lawyer, Howard L. Cardin, said that she talked about leaving her newborn at a church.

Patria did not hear her newborn cry after birth, and so thought he was stillborn, Cardin said.

"I think it is clear from this [Beard's] report that Megan Patria did not want to hurt this child," Cardin said.

Beard said Patria's behavior was not unusual, as teenagers often are torn between "wanting someone to know something as desperately as they try to conceal it."

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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