GOSHEN, N.Y. — A New York mother has plead guilty to leaving her newborn son in a motel toilet this past November. The infant was rescued by police after hotel staff called 911 and has now recovered completely.
Teresa Smith, 23, appeared in court on Thursday, where she admitted as part of a plea deal that she purposefully abandoned her child in the toilet with no intention of returning for him.
“Yes, your honor,” she replied when asked by Judge Craig Brown whether she left her baby in the toilet water after giving birth on Nov. 1, according to the Times Herald-Record.
“It’s fair to say the child was at risk of dying?” Brown inquired.
“Yes,” Smith said.
“And did you do anything to minimize the risk of that child dying?” Brown pressed.
“No,” the mother replied.
The Poughkeepsie Journal and the Herald-Record report that Smith gave birth at a Budget Inn Motel, cleaned herself up, and then went out to look for drugs.
Motel workers who soon entered the room found blood and soiled clothing, and called the police.
“Officers from the Town of Newburgh Police Department discovered the baby in the toilet bowl, and immediately rendered first aid. The baby was rushed to the hospital and survived,” Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler outlined in a press release.
Hoovler’s office had argued in court that Smith abandoned her son with no intention of returning or caring for the newborn. She was indicted by a grand jury on charges of attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault and child abandonment.
On Thursday, Smith plead guilty to the assault charge under a plea deal. In return, Hoovler’s office will recommend that she be sentenced to 15 years in prison with five years post-release supervision. Her sentencing is scheduled for June 18.
“Infants are the most innocent of victims,” Hoovler said in a statement. “We can only hope that there are no long-lasting physical effects which will be suffered by the victim in this case. It is hard to comprehend what could drive any mother to intend to harm her own baby by abandoning him under these circumstances.”
“I am grateful to the Town of Newburgh Police Department for their actions is saving the child’s life,” he added. “My office will continue to work with all our law enforcement partners in protecting children and will continue to seek severe punishment for all who commit violent crimes against defenseless infants and children.”
New York has a safe haven law that allows for mothers to surrender their newborns — up to 30 days old — at a local hospital, police station or fire station without criminal penalty. The child will then be placed into foster care and made available for adoption.
“In New York State, there are many prospective adoptive families searching for a child to become a part of their family,” the state Office of Children and Family Services writes on a page about the Abandoned Infant Protection Act. “If you are considering the option not to parent your child, adoption will provide your child with a safe and loving home.”
Under New York’s previous self-abortion statute, 125.55, it used to be illegal for mothers to perform or commit a self-abortion on a child 24 weeks gestation (six months) and up. However, the recently-signed Reproductive Health Act repealed the statute and crossed out language under criminal homicide law stating that “[h]omicide means … abortion in the first degree or self-abortion in the first degree.”
It also left a definition intact that says that a “[p]erson, when referring to the victim of a homicide, means a human being who has been born and is alive.”
See Christian News Network’s report “NY’s New Abortion Law Allows Man Who Killed Pregnant Girlfriend to Get Away With Death of Unborn Child.”