South Haven mother admitted to suffocating newborn
Posted in the Grand Rapids Forum
Since: Oct 07
#1 Sep 3, 2009
PAW PAW -- A woman on trial for her newborn's death admitted to police she suffocated the infant and "freaked out" before putting the body under her bed, a detective testified.
Ashleigh Smith, 24, of South Haven, initially told police the baby was stillborn on April 1, 2008. Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Diane Oppenheim testified Wednesday, however, that Smith told her during two separate interviews in July 2008 that she knew the baby was alive when it was born because it made "gurgling" sounds and moved its arms and legs.
"She said there was no doubt (the baby) was alive but she freaked out," Oppenheim testified in Van Buren County Circuit Court during the second day of Smith's trial. "She said she wrapped the baby up in a blanket and suffocated it. She said she put the baby under a bed."
A statement written by Smith and read by Oppenheim to the jury pool of 11 women and three men said the same thing: "I wrapped her up in a blanket. She was alive when I did that and it suffocated her."
A four-minute tape of the interview played for jurors repeated the same statements. Smith, sitting at the defendant's table, wiped her eyes as it played.
Other recorded interviews with investigators were expected to be played for jurors and testimony from Oppenheim was expected to resume this morning.
Police on May 6, 2008, found the body of an infant girl in a trash bag in the basement of a house where Smith lived. It had been there at least a month before Smith's mother found it, police said.
Police said Smith hid the pregnancy from her parents because she was afraid that if they found out, they and the Michigan Department of Human Services would try to keep her from regaining custody of her son, then 14 months old.
Smith is charged with first-degree murder and faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole, if convicted. On Wednesday, she rejected an offer from the prosecutor's office to plead guilty to a charge of second-degree murder, which can carry a penalty of any term of years up to life in prison.
I think she should have taken the plea deal.
“Don't touch my junk man!”
Since: Nov 07
Middle of the Mitten, Michigan
#2 Sep 3, 2009
She was 24 years old and still didn't know right from wrong in an event such as this? How awful, I know of tons of people that would have given their right arm at an opportunity to adopt that infant.
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