Guilty plea in death of newborn - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Guilty plea in death of newborn

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Posted: Wednesday, May 17, 2006 11:23 am | Updated: 4:52 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A 20-year-old Tempe woman pleaded guilty to manslaughter Monday in the death of her newborn girl two years ago.

Krystal Johnson will spend between five and 12 1 /2 years in prison and will be on probation for life under the plea deal.

Johnson, who is free on bail, could have been sentenced to 10 to 22 years if she had been convicted at trial on the original charge of seconddegree murder.

On March 3, 2004, a neighbor of Johnson’s looked underneath pink and yellow towels in her backyard to find what she initially thought was a doll, but she quickly realized from the weight and umbilical cord that it was an infant, according to the grand jury transcript of Tempe police detective Trent Luckow. Close by was a plastic shopping bag with the placenta.

“The baby was born alive and died as a result of the exposure and the blanket she was wrapped in,” wrote deputy Maricopa County attorney Shawn Steinberg. The baby also had methamphetamine detected in her system.

Although she had hidden her pregnancy from her family, Johnson admitted she was pregnant to a Scottsdale police officer a month before the discovery of the dead infant, Luckow told the grand jury in 2004.

Johnson initially denied the baby was hers, but DNA tests proved otherwise, court documents state.

She is scheduled to be sentenced June 15.

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