NEW JERSEY - A New Jersey couple is headed to prison for their roles in the death of their newborn baby who was killed and tossed into an outdoor trash bin.
Jada McClain, 20, received a 10-year sentence Thursday. She had pleaded guilty last year to aggravated manslaughter. Quaimere Mohammed, 21, who pleaded guilty to disturbing or desecrating human remains, received a five-year sentence.
Their respective lawyers sought lesser sentences for their clients, citing their ages at the time and their immaturity. McClain sobbed as she asked state Superior Court Judge David Bauman for leniency, telling him "I’m really sorry and I promise to never do it again."
Joseph Competello, the assistant Monmouth County prosecutor handling the cases, told Bauman the appropriate leniency had already been taken into account in fashioning plea bargains for both defendants. Bauman eventually agreed, noting that McClain had made other attempts to end her pregnancy.
An investigation revealed that McClain had become pregnant by Mohammed, a student at Asbury Park High School, in July 2018. McClain hid the pregnancy from her parents, authorities said.
The killing occurred on March 29, 2019, when McClain — then a student at Neptune High School — gave birth to a son at her family's Neptune Township home. Police were notified on April 4 that she had recently given birth and that the child was dead.
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After giving birth, McClain pressed her hands on the boy’s chest until he stopped breathing, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. She then contacted Mohammed, and later that morning, the two disposed of the child’s body in an outdoor trash bin near a public housing complex in Asbury Park.
Investigators learned that the contents of the trash container were transported to the county landfill in Tinton Falls, where they were compacted and buried. The infant’s body was never recovered.
"This case is a horrible tragedy. An infant is dead and two young people are going to prison. None of this should have happened. Young persons who are not yet ready for parenthood need to understand that there are safe, legal, and completely confidential ways to give up custody of a newborn," said Gramiccioni.
The New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act law allows a parent who is unable or unwilling to care for an infant to give up custody of a baby who is less than 30 days old, safely, legally, and anonymously. The baby must be brought to a hospital emergency room or police station in New Jersey. As long as the child shows no signs of intentional abuse, no names or other information is required from the person delivering the baby.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.