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Mother charged in her infant’s death

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A 15-year-old South Jamaica girl was arrested and charged in connection with the February death of her newborn baby girl after the medical examiner determined Friday that the child was born alive, police said.

The baby died of homicidal asphyxia, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office.

The baby’s 15-year-old mother, who lives on 115th Avenue near 155th Street in South Jamaica, was arrested Friday and charged with manslaughter in the second degree, criminally negligent homicide and tampering with physical evidence, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

The baby’s body was found Feb. 16 at 9:50 p.m. in a sewer at the corner of 155th Street and 115th Avenue.

On Feb. 15, the suspect checked herself into Jamaica Hospital, complaining of stomach pains. Doctors determined that she had recently given birth and realized they had delivered the baby Feb. 14.

Hospital officials notified police, who interviewed the suspect and hours later found the baby in a sewer down the block from her house.

A girl’s purple bike, a baby doll’s stroller and other toys cluttered the small gated yard in the quiet neighborhood of single-family homes where the young suspect lives.

The girl’s next-door neighbors both declined to comment on her arrest, but down the street a resident, Ann Kelly, said she had been very disturbed by the newborn’s death.

“I think any time you take a baby and throw it in a sewer, you should pay for it,” Kelly said.

Kelly said that in the 30 years she has lived on the block, nothing like that had happened. When teens get pregnant, they ask their parents for help and raise the child, she said.

“I was very upset about it and I still am,” she said, recalling the night an ambulance came in vain to rescue the baby, who was found lying in the sewer.

Brown said the case was a perfect example of a tragedy that might have been prevented had the young mother known where she could safely leave her newborn.

“Earlier this year a law was enacted in Albany that provides a legal defense to abandonment or child endangerment charges if the mother brings a baby up to five days old to a safe place and notifies an appropriate person of the child’s location,” Brown said.

The Abandoned Infant Protection Act is intended to encourage mothers to leave an unwanted baby in a safe place like a hospital or firehouse rather than abandon it, Brown said.

“Together with hospitals and concerned citizens across the state, prosecutors have been working diligently to establish safe havens at various hospitals and other locations,” Brown said.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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