Teen sentenced in baby's death

Anne Arundel woman, now 19, must remain in a juvenile facility until she turns 21

October 03, 2007|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,Sun reporter

An Anne Arundel County teenager who gave birth into a toilet at her Arnold home and disposed of the infant's body in a trash can outside was sentenced yesterday to a juvenile detention facility until she turns 21, the stiffest penalty available.

The former Broadneck High School student, who was 17 at the time of her son's death in December 2005, is on house arrest while Maryland Department of Juvenile Services officials come up with a recommendation on where she should serve the time. The Sun is not identifying her because she was tried as a juvenile.

Circuit Judge Nancy L. Davis-Loomis said this is "one of the most, if not the most, troubling cases" that she has experienced in 13 years on the bench.

Davis-Loomis questioned whether the teen, now 19, should be sent to the Thomas J.S. Waxter Children's Center in Laurel, the only juvenile detention center for girls in Maryland. It does not provide long-term detention. The only other option is for her to go to an out-of-state facility. A hearing has been set for Oct. 26.

"We are very limited in the state of Maryland regarding juvenile facilities," Deputy State's Attorney Laura S. Kiessling, who prosecuted the case, said after the hearing. "It was very important to the judge that there be accountability."

Part of the hearing was closed to discuss the teenager's court-ordered psychological assessment for sentencing.

Defense lawyer Howard L. Cardin said yesterday that any kind of detention would be "counterproductive."

"The only comment I will make is that it is clear that she has been receiving counseling and has made tremendous strides in her rehabilitation," he said.

In August, the girl was found delinquent - the legal equivalent to guilty in juvenile proceedings. If prosecuted as an adult she could have received 30 years in prison on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and child abuse resulting in death.

The girl avoided dealing with her pregnancy, Keissling said during the trial, telling the baby's father that she had "taken care of" it and hiding her swelling belly. She did not seek prenatal care, smoked and drank and searched online for how to cause a miscarriage, prosecutors said.

As she went into labor Dec. 3, she refused a friend's pleas over the phone to call 911 and gave birth alone in the bathroom while her mother was out.

A medical examiner ruled that the baby drowned in the toilet where the teen left him for five to 10 minutes or smothered in a plastic bag that she wrapped him in, then stuffed in a trash can. Cold weather also might have contributed to the death, the official said.

During the trial, Cardin said his client had a vague plan to give away the baby but panicked with the onset of the baby's delivery.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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