LAKELAND, Fla. (AP)— A 14-year-old girl was in court Friday to face accusations that she choked her newborn to death after secretly giving birth and prosecutors say they are considering whether to charge her as an adult.
Authorities got involved on Sept. 19 when a local hospital called to tell police about a 14-year-old who was being treated for what was reportedly a miscarriage. Three days later, the girl’s mother called deputies because she smelled an odor and found a full-term baby dead in a shoebox, hidden in laundry in her daughter’s room in their central Florida home.
The girl, who was arrested Thursday, told Polk County detectives she gave birth to the boy on Sept. 19 in the bathroom of her home in Lakeland. The Associated Press normally does not identify juveniles who are suspects in crimes or charged in juvenile court.
“Realizing she was delivering, she placed a towel in her mouth and turned on the bathroom water to conceal any noise she might make during the delivery,” wrote sheriff’s spokeswoman Donna Wood in a news release.
The baby weighed 9.4 pounds and according to detectives, the girl felt his pulse and then put her hands around his neck and “squeezed until he wasn’t moving or breathing any longer.”
Officials said the girl put the baby in a shoebox with some soiled clothes, wrapped the box in a plastic bag and then hid it inside the storage compartment of a footrest.
The girl told detectives tried to hide her pregnancy by wearing baggy clothes. According to a detective’s report, several members of the girl’s family suspected she was pregnant, but the girl’s mother said that the girl had taken two pregnancy tests — alone and in private — and that they came back negative.
The girl is being held at the Polk County Juvenile Detention Facility and it’s unclear whether she’s retained an attorney. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said that the case shocked him and his investigators.
“Everyone’s a loser in this,” he said Friday.
The girl didn’t tell her family about the baby because “she didn’t want to change the relationship with her mother,” Judd said.
Authorities are investigating the identity of the baby’s father.
Judd said that prosecutors’ decision on whether to charge the girl as an adult is a difficult one.
“You’ve got to weigh that out carefully,” he said. “She committed a premeditated first-degree murder. The question is, where can she be better dealt with — the juvenile or the adult system?”
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