A Virginia woman could face up to 21 years in prison for allegedly drowning her newborn son in a bathtub.
Vanessa Danielle Poteat, 26, of Ringgold, in southern Virginia, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Tuesday, the Danville Register & Bee reports. She is scheduled to be sentenced in September.
Poteat allegedly killed her newborn son in 2014, but his remains were not discovered until two years later, leading to charges against his mother, according to the report.
Police said her boyfriend at the time, Shannon Kip Browder, called police after he found the infant’s body in a bag in his family’s home on June 11, 2016.
Here’s more from the report:
On Sept. 20, 2014, the [court] documents state, Poteat came home and took a bath, where she gave birth to the child in the tub. The document says she worried what the boyfriend would do when he came home, so she slipped the newborn under the bath water and held him to her chest until he stopped moving.
“Once it stopped moving she realized what she had done and she tried to get the water out of the baby but it was too late,” the document states. “She looked at the baby for about an hour, and then placed him in trash bags.”
The document says she took a number of pills and went to bed “hoping she would die.” When she woke, she put the newborn’s body in a duffel bag and later stashed it Browder’s house when the two moved in together.
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Court documents indicate Poteat told different stories to people about her pregnancy and baby’s death. According to police, she initially told them her unborn baby had a fatal condition so she elected to have an abortion.
Later, police said she confessed to killing her son because she was afraid of her boyfriend; she claimed he had been abusive to her in the past, the report states. She also said she attempted suicide after killing her son.
It is a horrifying tragedy that could have been prevented. All 50 states have safe haven laws to protect babies from abandonment and infanticide. These laws allow mothers in crisis to leave their newborns in a safe environment, such as a hospital or fire station, without questions or repercussions, as long as there are no signs of abuse.
If you or someone you know would like more information about relinquishing a newborn child, please call 1-866-99BABY1 or go to www.SafeHavenLaw.com.