Lawyer: Insanity defense possible for NJ mom accused of killing newborn
FREEHOLD BOROUGH — The lawyer for the mother accused of suffocating her newborn and leaving his body in a dumpster said Wednesday that the high school student didn't kill the boy but that she may not have a good grip on reality.
Jada McClain, 18, of Neptune, was charged with first-degree murder and second-degree disturbing or desecrating human remains.
Her boyfriend and the father of the baby, Quaimere Mohammed, 19, was charged with second-degree disturbing or desecrating human remains.
Both McClain and Mohammed have been ordered to remain locked up until trial.
Investigators, who had been tipped off by a friend of McClain's, said that McClain gave birth to Legend in the early hours of March 29 in the bathroom of her apartment. She told cops that she pressed against his chest in an effort to stop his breathing. She said she wrapped the baby in a blanket and called Mohammed, police said. They placed a bag with the child's body in a dumpster at the the Asbury Park apartment complex where Mohammed lived, investigators said.
A spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday said the child's body has not been located.
Attorney Thomas Catley on Wednesday said that the defense would show "what really occurred," according to the Asbury Park Press. He said she denies killing the baby.
McClain was described as “sweet” but "naïve and immature" by Catley, according to NJ.com. Catley said he senses a “detachment from reality” when he talks to McClain.
Catley did not rule out using an insanity defense after consulting with a medical expert, according to the Asbury Park Press, which covered the McClain's detention hearing on Wednesday.
Catley told reporters he will challenge McClain's comments to investigators after her arrest. According to the affidavit filed by investigators, she waived her Miranda rights to remain silent and answered questions without an attorney present.
Investigators said McClain told them that she had been drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana and taking drugs in an effort to end the pregnancy, which she hid from her family. She said she ruled out getting an abortion because she did not want to tell her family, police said.
Mohammad's attorney, Steven Nelson, told the court on Friday that his client tried to comfort McClain via text after the infant was born. Nelson said the two were "madly in love" and were fearful her parents would find out about her pregnancy.
New Jersey's Safe Haven Law allows people to safely surrender an infant legally and anonymously at designated public safety sites across the Garden State, including hospitals, police stations, firehouses, and ambulance and rescue squad facilities that are staffed 24/7. More information is at njsafehaven.org.
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