A Bridgeton teenager who left her newborn to die in a fairgrounds bathroom last spring will be sentenced on a downgraded charge of reckless manslaughter
, now 16, pleaded guilty to reckless manslaughter
at a closed hearing Wednesday before Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Gary D. Wodlinger.
The hearing was closed because Sanchez is a juvenile.
Wodlinger scheduled sentencing for Monday. The hearing, in Family Court, will be closed to the public.
The crime took place May 4, 2008, just 10 days before Sanchez turned 15.
Sanchez initially was charged with first-degree murder. Her baby was born in a toilet bowl at the Cumberland County Fairgrounds in Millville and then placed in the toilet tank, prosecutors alleged.
County Prosecutor Ronald J. Casella announced the plea Thursday.
"What she admitted to was not taking any action,"
Casella said. "Not that she put him in the tank."
Sanchez' inaction, under her plea deal, includes not caring for the infant or checking to see the baby was breathing or asking for help from anyone.
The plea bargain agreement leaves sentencing to the judge's discretion.
"I don't think there is any satisfactory decision in a case like this," Casella said. "We sought to have her tried as an adult."
But, the prosecutor said, "you get into some proof problems as to her state of mind" at the time of the incident.
Sanchez's identity had been withheld because of her age until Thursday when the plea bargain was disclosed. She has been held at the county Juvenile Detention Center since May 2008.
Casella said the girl has never identified the baby's father. He said Sanchez's age when she became pregnant opens a question of whether the father committed a crime