A woman accused of having left her newborn baby in a toilet at an eastern Pennsylvania restaurant last summer has pleaded guilty to a general murder charge likely sparing her own life in the process.
A woman accused of having left her newborn baby in a toilet at an eastern Pennsylvania restaurant last summer has pleaded guilty to a general murder charge likely sparring her own life in the process.
Amanda Hein of Allentown, Pa. entered the plea Friday at a pretrial hearing in Northampton County Court.
A jury must still decide if the degree of murder -- first or third -- of which the 27-year-old should be convicted.
Prosecutors said Hein gave birth in a bathroom at Starters Pub in Bethlehem in August, then wrapped the newborn in a plastic bag and placed him in a toilet tank causing him to suffocate.
Defense attorney Michael Corriere said in January that his client had been diagnosed with major depression, suicidal thoughts, bipolar disorder and other problems.
Prosecutors had said they planned to seek the death penalty.
Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said Hein was at the pub with three men on the night of Aug. 18 to watch a pay-per-view event.
One of the men she was with that night told police that at one point she excused herself to go to the restroom and didn't return for an "extended period of time," according to Morganelli.
"He and the others became concerned about her and texted her to see if she was OK," said Morganelli.
Authorities say that Hein went into labor and had the baby in the restroom. Luis Rivera, one of the men Hein was with that night, told police she returned from the bathroom stained with blood. Rivera says she refused help, however, and didn't reveal what happened.
Investigators say Hein stayed at the pub for another hour and continued to watch the event before she left. A cleaning crew found the baby the next day in the toilet tank.
"Inside the tank was a fetus," pub owner David Rank told NBC10 Philadelphia.
"The baby was four to seven weeks early at the time of delivery," said Morganelli.
Pennsylvania is one of 49 states that offer mothers safe -- and legal -- alternatives to abandoning their babies. The Safe Haven Law allows parents to relinquish babies at any hospital in the state without fear of criminal prosecution, provided that the child is unharmed.
Starters Pub is a popular spot in the Lehigh Valley and served as a landmark location for Eagles fans headed up to training camp since its founding in 2000 until the team moved training camp back to Philly last summer.