Amanda Hein, 27, of Allentown, Pennsylvania was in a Northampton County Court today for a pre-trial hearing, and entered a plea of guilty. Hein was accused of murdering her newborn son on August 18, 2013, after giving birth in the bathroom of Starters Pub, a popular sports bar. Hein wrapped the baby in a plastic bag and hid the baby in the tank of the toilet. Her friends reported that she was in the bathroom for an unusually long time, and that they had even sent texts to her to check her condition. When Hein returned to the bar to finish watching a pay per view sports event, her friends noted that she was stained with blood, but that she refused help and would not answer questions about her appearance. She stayed approximately another hour, and left without ever revealing anything had happened.
A member of the cleaning crew found the dead baby boy the following morning. A coroner’s investigation determined that while the baby was approximately four to seven weeks premature, but that the baby was born alive. The coroner determined the baby’s cause of death was suffocation.
Hein’s defense attorney, Michael Corriere, was mounting a defense based on Hein’s belief that the baby was ill, and was going to die anyway, so Hein did not premeditate the baby’s death. Hein’s attorney also noted that she is taking medication for depression and a bipolar disorder. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli had intended to seek the death penalty in the case when it went to trial. Speculation is that Hein pleaded guilty to the general murder charge to spare her own life. A jury will now decide if Hein is guilty of first degree or third degree murder. The first degree murder charge carries a sentence of life in prison, while the third degree charge will see Hein in prison for 20 to 40 years.
Pennsylvania is one of 49 states that has a Safe Haven Law, allowing parents to surrender babies at any hospital in the state, no questions asked, provided the child has not been previously harmed. This law would likely have been brought up during a trial, adding to the prosecutions case. Hein did not speak during the hearing, other than to acknowledge the charges, and that she understood the consequences of pleading guilty.
After the plea bargain was approved, Prosecutor Morganelli admitted that Hein’s mental health issues would have made the first degree charge, and the death penalty sentence difficult to obtain. He also n oted that there have not been any death row inmates executed in Pennsylvania in 15 years:
“Realistically, death penalties are not conferred in Pennsylvania.”
Hein has never commented as to who fathered the baby she gave birth to and murdered,