Local News

Jury Deliberates In Sophia Whitley Case

Posted August 27, 2003

— A jury has the case in the trial of a Harnett County woman accused of murdering her newborn son.

Sophia Whitley is accused of putting her newborn son in a plastic bag and hiding him in the trunk of a car after she gave birth in July 2002. Jurors started their deliberations 4:30 p.m. Thursday and will resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

In closing arguments, attorneys tried to sway the jury about Whitley's fate.

"Baby boy Whitley had a right to life -- the right to be given the chance to make his own decisions," prosecutor Margaret Cloutier said.

"They have not provided any proof that Sophia did anything to that child because they can't," defense attorney Parrish Daughtry said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Richard Whitley, Sophia's father, took the stand and said he had no idea his daughter was pregnant. He said he did notice physical changes in Sophia's appearance, but he thought that was due to his daughter's kidney disease.

Richard Whitley said he and his wife were at the lake when they heard the news. He said they raced to the hospital to see their daughter.

"She was just lost. She looked like she was in shock," he said.

Sophia Whitley said she also did not know that she was pregnant when she gave birth alone in the bathroom of her parents' house. She said her son was stillborn, but a medical examiner disagrees.

Whitley faces second-degree murder charges.

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