(CBS/AP) - A Southern California woman was sentenced on Friday to five years in a state prison for the death of her newborn baby, after he drowned when she gave birth on a toilet in her family's home.
The Fullerton resident, Yanira Valderrama, now 21, pleaded guilty before an Orange County Judge last month. She was charged with one felony count of child abuse with a sentencing enhancement. The Orange County Register reported that Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy said a murder charge was dropped as part of the plea deal, based on Valderrama's mental state at the time of the birth.
Prosecutors held that in September 2009, Valderrama, who was then 19, went into premature labor and gave birth to a baby boy in the bathroom of her house.
After the baby was born, she took the boy from the toilet, wrapped him in a t-shirt and put him in a bedroom wastebasket. She had hidden the pregnancy from her family, but when her mother entered the bathroom and saw large amounts of blood, she called 911, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Paramedics brought Valderrama to Anaheim Memorial Hospital, where it was concluded she had in fact, given birth that night. Police were then notified and later found the deceased child in the bedroom.
Police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich said a 2010 autopsy proved that the newborn boy died of a "blunt-force injury to the head and asphyxia while submerged in water." He never had oxygen in his lungs.
Meanwhile Tracy LeSage, who represented Valderrama, said that it was a sad case. "I think these are difficult cases when you have a single mom who's pregnant and doesn't know what to do. In the end, no mother wants to hurt their child."
She said Valderrama felt terrible about what happened.