Teen charged with murder of baby found in bag during shoplifting bust
07/31/2015 4:16 pm PDT
A Brooklyn teenager who was caught carrying her dead newborn son in a bag during a shoplifting bust at Victoria's Secret has been charged with second-degree murder.
Tiona Rodriguez, 18, was charged two years after the boy died. Rodriguez pleaded not guilty Thursday.
Prosecutors say Rodriguez suffocated the newborn on October 16, 2013, then stuffed the infant's body into a shopping bag and went to a Victoria's Secret store with the bag the next day, where she was arrested for shoplifting.
A security guard discovered the dead baby in the shopping bag when Rodriguez and her friend were confronted and searched.
Rodriguez's attorney said the baby was stillborn. He said that the girl's pregnancy had not been detected during a medical check-up the month before the baby was born.
Rodriguez was surprised when abdominal pain turned out to be labor pain, according to her attorney, and that the child was born without a pulse when she delivered while at a friend's house.
The Manhattan prosecutor said Rodriguez knew she was pregnant and plotted to kill the newborn.
Prosecutors point to a text from Rodriguez in which the girl referred to the unborn child with a vulgarity, saying she would "dig a hole" and "put it somewhere," adding a "lol," and "then we go eat at iHop," according to the prosecution.
The prosecution said Rodriguez, then 17, went to a friend's house on October 16, 2013, gave birth in a bathroom and asphyxiated the boy after tearing the 8-pound baby's umbilical cord with her hands. She was determined to hide the pregnancy and the child so it wouldn't "derail" her life "again."
Rodriguez has a 4-year-old son to whom she gave birth at age 14, according to the New York Daily News.
In her bathtub in 2012, Rodriguez delivered a second child; that child did not survive. Her attorney said that was a miscarriage. Rodriguez had texted her boyfriend at the time about smashing or burning the body, according to an Associated Press report.
The defense attorney said the fact that Rodriguez brought the dead baby to Victoria's Secret the day after the 2013 birth demonstrates how confused she was.
The baby born in 2013 at Rodriguez's friend's house was alive for minutes, according to prosecutors. Rodriguez's attorney said air in the baby's lungs could be from decomposition.
Judge Thomas Farber denied Rodriguez bail. Rodriguez could face 10 years to life in prison if convicted.