A New York City teen has been charged with suffocating her newborn baby boy, putting his lifeless body in a shopping bag and then going on a shopping trip to Victoria's Secret.
Eighteen-year-old Tiona Rodriguez pleaded not guilty, The Associated Press reported. Rodriguez's lawyer claimed it was a stillbirth and that the teen did not kill her child. According to the AP, Rodriguez's indictment came almost two years after she was arrested on a $45 (£28.85) shoplifting charge.
At the time of the arrest, the teen's bag was inspected and her baby's body was discovered by a security guard. The investigation by prosecutors revealed Rodriguez had become a mother at 14 and "callously" decided not to tell anyone when she got pregnant two years later.
"She knew she would be in big trouble if her family found out, so she made a plan—to kill this baby," said Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Rachel Ferrari. "She had derailed her life once. She was not going to do it again."
Ferrari said the then 17-year-old delivered in a bathroom at her friend's house on 16 October 2013, ripped the 8-pound boy's umbilical cord with her hands and suffocated him. The prosecutor said Rodriguez send a text message where she used a vulgarity to describe her son, adding she would "dig a hole" and "put it somewhere". She added, "then we go eat iHop".
Rodriguez's attorney Earl Ward claimed she did not realise she was pregnant and that her pregnancy had not been found during an annual primary-care checkup a month before the child was born. Ward said when Rodriguez went into labour, she held the boy in her hands, checked his pulse and breathing, cleaned him off and began to cry. She allegedly then took him home and put him in a dresser drawer.
Ward called her a "confused young girl who had no idea what to do with the foetus after it was stillborn."
However, prosecutors argued that Rodriguez had attempted to hide pregnancies before. A previous birth in 2012 also ended in an unclear death. Prosecutors said the baby born in 2013 lived a few minutes before dying, the AP noted.
CBS News reported a New York City medical examiner found the baby had died of homicidal asphyxiation.