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Teen Sentenced To Probation For Killing Newborn Son Now Behind Bars

Posted January 5, 2006

— A former cheerleader and popular high school student is now an inmate in state prison after violating the probation she received for allegedly killing her newborn son.

Sophia Whitley was charged with first-degree murder in the July 2002 death of her newborn baby boy. In 2003, a jury found Whitley guilty of manslaughter and sentenced her to three years probation.

Harnett County's District Attorney Tom Lock, however, always believed the crime was premeditated.

Whitley, who was 19 at the time, claimed she did not know she was pregnant and that the baby was not alive when she allegedly stuffed him in the trunk of her car.

At trial, an expert testified the baby had to be born alive.

Still, a judge sentenced her to probation -- no jail time. At the time, her family was overjoyed.

"She's got a lot to look forward to, and we're just grateful to still have her with us," said her father, Richard Whitley, in August 2003.

Whitley had a chance to start over. The family looked to a fresh start by moving away from their home in Erwin.

But many believe the girl voted most charming in high school did not take advantage of that second chance.

In November, she was sent to prison for violating several terms of her probation, including testing positive for marijuana and cocaine.

"This defendant clearly had multiple chances, perhaps more than she deserved," Lock said. "She blew all those opportunities."

"She had everything going for her," recalled childhood friend Dora Dilts.

As recent as five months ago, Dilts tried to talk to Whitley about changing her life.

"I was lecturing her to change her life, let drugs go, become a good mother -- just change everything about herself," Dilts said.

Many onlookers did not know it, but at her trial, Whitley was pregnant again and gave birth to another boy, who is now being raised by her parents.

And she is now behind bars at a facility in Montgomery County for more than a year in connection with her first son's death.

"Perhaps she'll learn something from her experience, now," Lock said.

Whitley turned down WRAL's request for an interview.

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