Tiona Rodriguez from New York has pled guilty to manslaughter under extreme emotional disturbance after she was found carrying a dead baby in a plastic shopping bag. The woman, who was 17 at the time, was shopping in Victoria’s Secret when security guards found her behaviour suspicious. They initially approached her under the belief she was shoplifting jeans, but once they got near they noticed a “foul odour”.
The smell brought their attention to the body of a dead newborn.
After her arrest, police discovered that she had given birth to the child in a friend’s bathroom. They believe she intentionally killed the baby there and then. The child weighed 8 pounds, and the District Attorney believe he died of asphyxiation. Police also found texts on her phones reading, “Take this sh*t and dig a hole, put it somewhere, lol, then we go eat IHOP.” It was these texts that led prosecutors to charge the woman with murder. If she had not pled guilty and the case had gone to trial, she could have faced life in prison.
“She took a bag with her, and a change of clothes. And she went into her friend’s bathroom, turned on the tub, and gave birth to her baby. Ripping the cord with her bare hands,” the prosecutor told Daily News reporters. “He wasn’t stillborn. He didn’t die of natural causes. He was murdered in that bathroom.”
This series of events was corroborated during a tense exchange in the court room:
“You admit the baby was born alive?” Judge Farber asked.
After a long silence Rodriguez answered,
The judge would go on to describe the proceedings as “a horribly sad and tragic case” just before handing the sentence down.
Rodriguez had also given birth previously in 2012, although the child did not survive. And once more previously in 2010 when she was fourteen years old. She kept her teenage pregnancy hidden from her family until she gave birth.
So far no one knows how long the baby boy had been alive before he was smothered. Meanwhile Rodriguez’s defence attorney offered the following words to reporters,
“People look at her and think she’s so evil, but there is so much more to this young woman than these incredibly horrible moments in her life. She was feeling incredible pressure and incredible feelings of inadequacy.”