EASTON, Pa. - A woman accused of leaving her newborn baby in a toilet at a Northampton County restaurant has pleaded guilty to the crime.
Amanda Catherine Hein pleaded guilty to a general murder charge in a pre-trial hearing Friday morning.
In exchange for her plea, the prosecution agreed to drop the death penalty. She, in turn, gave up her right to appeal and may not ask the governor for clemency.
"She understood the nature of what she was doing today in pleading to an open count of homicide," said Hein's attorney, Michael Corriere. "It's a fair offer based on the evidence that I think is going to be presented at trial."
Hein gave birth in a bathroom stall in late August and left her baby to die in the back of the toilet at Starters on Route 378 in Lower Saucon Township.
A jury trial will decide the degree of guilt. The jury trial can choose first degree murder, with a sentence of life with no chance of parole, or third degree murder with a sentence of 20 to 40 years.
"We don't risk a not guilty verdict. We don't risk not guilty by insanity. We don't risk a lower finding of manslaughter because she was just reckless and not intentional," said Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli.
"I think people are always a little hesitant when they have to decide if someone is guilty or not guilty," Morganelli added. "In this case, they are going to be told in jury selection that their job is only going to be to determine whether or not this person is guilty of murder in the first degree or third degree."
Jury selection will begin April 7.
Allentown, PA 18102