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New York woman suffocated son, 4, pleads guilty

Manuela Maria Morgado

CBS New York

NEW YORK - A suburban New York woman accused of smothering her 4-year-old son pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday, reports The Journal News.

Manuela Maria Morgado, 48, of Mamaroneck in Westchester County, agreed to serve 20 years in prison for killing Jason Reish in September 2012 during a bitter custody battle with the boy's father, Dr. Timothy Reish, a Manhattan surgeon, according to the paper.

The paper reports the case had been headed for trial later this month, but prosecutors struck a deal with Morgado and her attorney.

"She wants to get this case over with," said Morgado's lawyer, Saad Siddiqui. "She is still responsible for her actions, despite any emotional distress she might have been going through."

Morgado became emotional when prosecutors, as part of the hearing, asked her about the day she killed her son, according to the paper. She dabbed tears from her face throughout the proceeding. Reish was in the courtroom for the hearing but declined to speak with reporters.

Mamaroneck police found Morgado semi-conscious, with her dead son in her arms, in her condo after receiving a call from a concerned relative. The Journal News reports she had tried to suffocate the boy with helium, but he began to struggle so she taped his hands and feet. Police said she ultimately abandoned the helium and killed the 4-year-old by forcing his head into a pillow.

Police found a suicide note at the home. Morgado had reportedly left a suicide note and taken an overdose of Xanax.

"It was supposed to be quick and peaceful so we could be happy together forever," Morgado told a police officer a day after the incident, according to the paper. She said she wanted to "hatch" an escape plan from the boy's father.