Woman pleads guilty to leaving newborn in trash at Louisville Ko - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Woman pleads guilty to leaving newborn in trash at Louisville Kohl's

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Jessica Price Jessica Price

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The mother of the baby found dead in a Kohl's restroom garbage can in 2013 has pleaded guilty.

The plea came Friday morning during a competency hearing. Jessica Price pleaded guilty to manslaughter, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.

She was originally facing a murder charge, but as part of the plea, the charge was amended down to manslaughter. As part of the plea deal, she would face a total of 10 years in prison: 10 for the manslaughter charge, five for the charge of tampering with physical evidence and one year for the abuse of a corpse charge. The sentences would be served concurrently, resulting in the 10-year total.

Prosecutors say Jessica Price was 29 years old in August 2013. She worked at the Kohl's at 11811 Standiford Plaza Drive, when authorities say she gave birth to the baby girl in the bathroom and left her in the trash can. Police say Price then left the store, only to return two hours later when police were on the scene.

Investigators say the baby was born full-term and healthy, and that the death was the result "of an intentional act."

Admissions

In an interview with police, Price, "acknowledged the possibility of suffocating the baby" she delivered in a bathroom of a Louisville Kohl's.

Price, said in the Aug. 14, 2013, interview that the baby was delivered into a toilet before she picked the girl up and began cleaning her with toilet paper, according to records released in her murder case earlier this month.

"During the discussion of cleaning the baby at one point she acknowledged the possibility of suffocating the baby," according to the summary of the interview.

After cleaning the newborn, Price said she threw away the toilet paper and returned to the stall and "held her baby," according to the police summary.

"She stated the baby's arms were blue in color and she was not breathing," according to the records. "She then uttered, ‘I don't know why I did what I did.'"

After placing the infant in a trash can and going home, Price said she returned to work a few hours later "to get the baby and go home to figure out what to do next."

Price also said she planned on reporting the incident but by that point the infant had been found in the restroom's trash by members of the store's cleaning crew and police had arrived, according to the summary.

Also in the records, a woman who worked with Price described to police what she heard in the bathroom in the hours before the dead newborn was discovered. The woman, Cathy Murphy, said she heard someone in the bathroom stall next to her grunting, followed by a baby's cries and a toilet flushing "constantly," one flush after another.

Murphy said she never saw the other person, but that two managers who were concerned about Price were outside the door.

A summary of an autopsy showed "the victim's lungs contained air which indicated the victim took breaths and was a live birth," according to the records.

Asked about Murphy's statement and the autopsy report, Price denied the newborn ever cried and that while she could not dispute the medical examiner's report, she maintained her belief that the child was already dead.  The medical examiner could not determine the exact cause of death.

In her first interview with police on Aug. 8, 2013, Price said she went to the bathroom during her shift and delivered a baby that was already dead before panicking and hiding the newborn's body in the trash.

Price said then that she picked up the child and "it wasn't moving and it wasn't breathing" and "I panicked, I got scared," cleaning up the blood with paper towels and putting the newborn into a trash bag and in the trash can, according to a video of her first interview with police.

Also among the evidence recently released, several employees told police they offered to take Price to the hospital, as she was pale, shaking and making repeated trips to the bathroom.

Price, however, declined, telling one employee that she was just sick from eating a chicken-salad sandwich earlier, according to the interviews. She allegedly told other co-workers that the pain was due to a cysts on her ovaries.

Price made six trips to the bathroom – the fifth one lasting over an hour, according to a summary of surveillance video obtained by police. During that hour, a store supervisor, Cindy Vance, can be seen bringing a wheelchair to the restroom area, according to the records.

Asked in the Aug. 14, 2013, interview by police why she turned down her co-workers' offer to call EMS, Price said "she was too freaked out and lost in the moment to think clearly," according to a the summary.  "… She stated she knew how it would look to people and there was no logic to her actions."

Police have said the baby girl appeared to be full-term and healthy and died as a result of an "intentional act" by Price.

Official sentencing has been set for May 31 at 9:30 a.m. 

Previous story:

Mother of dead baby arrested, charged with murder
Woman charged in infant's death worked at Kohl's
Mother of dead baby found at Kohl's expected in court Monday
Mother accused of killing baby pleads not guilty to murder
Mother charged with murder released from jail on house arrest
Interview uncovers mother's actions before giving birth to baby found in trash
Kohl's employees tell police newborn found in trash was dead when she was discovered
Jessica Price told police it's possible she suffocated her newborn in Kohl's bathroom
New evidence sheds light on case of mother accused of murdering newborn
Trial date set for woman accused of suffocating newborn in Kohl's bathroom

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