POSTED: Thursday, December 18, 2008
UPDATED: 8:46 am EST December 19, 2008
POMPANO BEACH, Fla. -- A woman who tossed her newborn baby seven stories down a hotel trash chute was sentenced to 13 years in state prison on Thursday.
Ashley Truitt, now 19, was originally charged with first-degree murder in the killing of her newborn baby in June 2007. By pleading guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated manslaughter on Thursday, she will avoid a possible life sentence on the premeditated murder charge she originally faced.
Truitt, then 18, was in South Florida with her parents on vacation from Iowa when she gave birth in the bathtub of a Pompano Beach hotel room. Prosecutors said she wrapped the crying newborn in a towel, walked down the hall and dropped the baby down the trash chute. The child landed in a Dumpster seven floors below, they said.
The baby died of head trauma.
Truitt took the stand Thursday to plead for mercy from the judge, who could have put her away for 30 years.
"Please give me the opportunity to prove to my family and this community that I can do the right thing," she said.
Prosecutor Greg Rossman urged the judge to hand down the maximum sentence, saying it would send a message.
"There are other people out there who see things like this happen and say, 'I don't want that to happen to me,'" Rossman said.
But defense attorneys argued that Truitt did not even know that she was pregnant and that her desperate actions were the result of a troubled childhood and personality disorder.
Truitt's parents told the court that Truitt resented being an adopted child. They said that she was raped at age 10, had an abortion at age 15 and became depressed and addicted to drugs and alcohol after losing her grandparents.
The teen's parents claimed that their daughter was stunned when she learned her baby had died.
"She absolutely had no idea what happened to her baby. She thought she left it wrapped in a towel on top of other towels," Raymond Truitt said.
Prosecutors said Truitt's troubled past and personality disorder did not stop her from knowing the difference between right and wrong.
The judge sentenced Truitt to 13 years in prison. As part of the plea agreement, Truitt gave up the right to stand trial and to appeal the judge's ruling on her sentencing.