Local News

Friends Stunned About News Of Classmate Facing Murder Charges

Posted July 10, 2002

— Friends of an 19-year-old said they are stunned by the news that their classmate faces first-degree murder charges for the death of her newborn.

During her court appearance Tuesday, the judge set a $50,000 secured bond for Sophia Whitley on several conditions. Whitley must be released to her parents, she must receive proper emotional and medical treatment, and she must adhere to a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. curfew.

Whitley, who police say was living with her parents and concealing her pregnancy, gave birth to a boy by herself in her parents' home in Harnett County.

Emergency personnel in Erwin were called late Saturday to answer a call of a female hemorrhaging. When rescue workers and police officers arrived, they discovered that the woman had given birth.

Police say Whitley later placed the infant in a trash bag and put him in the trunk of a car. Whitley was arrested Sunday afternoon.

While she was a student at Triton High School, Whitley was a cheerleader and voted Most Charming in her senior class.

"She was so sweet. She had the best personality of anybody who would ever meet," classmate Kimberly Bledsoe said.

"That is totally not Sophia Whitley. She was my best friend and I know her so well," classmate Lorie Jackson said. "When I heard it, I didn't know if I wanted to cry or be mad at her or be sad for her."

Police say they do not know how long the 7-pound infant was in the trunk of the car. The medical examiner's office said the baby was carried full-term and he was born alive.

An infant abandonment law passed the state Legislature last year. It allows mothers to leave newborns under seven days old with a responsible adult, police, or health care provider and avoid child abandonment charges.

Texas became the first state to pass the infant abandonment law in 1999. Since then, 25 states have followed.

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