Michigan woman Kimberly Pappas has been sentenced to a minimum of nine years for murdering her newborn son by stuffing him in a plastic bag and hiding the child in a desk drawer at work.
Pappas delivered and then asphyxiated her son in March; she pleaded guilty to lesser charges of second-degree murder. Kimberly was sentenced Monday.
“I just want to thank my family,” Pappas told the judge before she was sentenced, The Detroit News reported. “The pain, grief and regret I have really can’t be put into words and is going to be with me the rest of my life.”
Kimberly was sentenced to nine to 20 years in prison by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow. Pappas had initially been charged with premeditated felony murder and child abuse, but those charges were dismissed in the plea agreement, The Associated Press reported. She’ll get credit for time served, to the tune of 185 days.
Pappas will also receive mental health counseling while she’s in prison to help her deal with what her attorney, Raymond Cassar, called “aberrant behavior.” Another of Kimberly’s attorneys, Patrick Ogurek, said the death wasn’t intentional and that she has a “tremendous amount of remorse.”
“It was a bad choice in as much she didn’t call for help,” Cassar noted after she was sentenced. “The birth came (quickly) and she panicked.”
The tragic story began this winter, when Kimberly became pregnant and hid and denied the pregnancy. Pappas didn’t buy baby clothes or other items and never talked about abortion or adoption. She also didn’t avail herself of Michigan’s Safe Haven Law, which would have allowed Kimberly to leave the newborn, up to three days after she gave birth, at any hospital, fire or police station, or any emergency service provider.
Instead, Kimberly did the unthinkable.
On March 31, the baby boy was born while Pappas was at work. According to The Huffington Post, which reported the crime in late April, she gave birth to the baby boy on the toilet in the office restroom.
“She said no one helped her with the delivery; she did it on her own,” recalled Detective Sgt. Kevin Crittenden of the Redford Township Police. “An employee was in the room with her for a short time and said she didn’t notice anything unusual.”
Police said at the time that Kimberly birthed a living child, which had been carried to full term, though Pappas told officials that she miscarried.
After Kimberly delivered the infant, she continued her work day, CBS News reported this summer when Pappas entered a guilty plea for the crime.
The new mom told police that the baby was dead when she put his body in a plastic bag; the bundle was then stuffed inside a desk drawer. A co-worker called 911 when she found blood in the bathroom, and Pappas’ baby was soon discovered.
“The baby was still warm when rescue personnel found him,” Crittenden said at the time.
Sadly, he was dead, and EMTs tried to revive him. They soon learned the disturbing truth — Kimberly had put the child in the bag while he was still alive, and he spent the next 30 minutes slowly asphyxiating. The newborn had bruises on his head and his lungs were filled with fluid, WXYZ reported.
Pappas’ attorneys said she suffered from “serious mental health issues,” a point they reiterated through their request for in-prison counseling when she was sentenced. Back in April when Kimberly was arraigned, he said his client showed little emotion.
“You could see her on the video screen. It was pretty flat. There’s issues. There’s serious issues there. I don’t think she understands what’s going on.”
When she was sentenced, Pappas seemed to finally show emotion, her voice breaking when she spoke to the judge, her attorneys assuring that the woman felt remorse for what she did. Her father, James Michael Pappas, was also present when she was sentenced and offered some final words of support.
“We love you and forgive you. We will support you with as many visits as we can. Your mother and I encourage you to take care of yourself.”
[Image Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]