A New York City teenager, who killed her newborn baby boy and later put his body in a handbag before going shopping at Victoria's Secret, has been jailed for 16 years on Thursday (22 February).
Tiona Rodriguez was 17 when she smothered her baby after giving birth in a friend's bathroom on 16 October 2013. She ripped the 8-pound boy's umbilical cord with her hands and suffocated him.
While shopping at a store in Manhattan, New York, she was initially stopped by security guards for shoplifting. When they searched her bag after noticing a foul smell coming from her bag, they found a tiny decomposing baby, New York Post reported.
If the case had gone to trial the now 21-year-old would reportedly have faced life imprisonment. However, in January she pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter under extreme emotional disturbance, which paved the way for a lesser sentence.
The medical examiner ruled that the infant's death was caused by homicidal asphyxiation. The District Attorney's Office called it a "shocking" case, the Mirror reported. The shoplifting charges were later dropped.
Prosecutor Chloe Kendall told Manhattan Supreme Court: "We hope this brings justice to the baby boy who never got to live his life," the New York Post reported.
"This is a horribly sad and tragic case," Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber said before handing down the sentence. The sentence also carries plus five years post-release supervision.
"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," her defence attorney Julie Rendelmen had earlier said.
The dead baby was Rodriguez's third child. She first gave birth when she was 14 and that child now lives with the father. Her second child didn't survive, the New York Post reported.