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Harnett County Woman Charged With Killing Newborn Appears In Court

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LILLINGTON, N.C. — Jury selection is under way in the trial of a Harnett County woman accused of killing her newborn baby. Sophia Whitley, 20, appeared at a Harnett County courthouse Monday with her family and friends.

On July 6, 2002, emergency officials responded to a 911 call at the home of Whitley's parents. Whitley, then 19, had recently given birth. Police said Whitley then wrapped her baby boy in towels and a garbage bag and put him in the trunk of her car. Authorities said the baby was born alive.

"That is totally not Sophia Whitley. I mean, she was my best friend, and I know her so well," said a friend of Whitley after the incident.

If convicted, Whitley will not face the death penalty. She could face life in prison. In addition to the charges for allegedly killing her baby, Whitley was also charged with possession of marijuana and methamphetamine in her bedroom.

The trial is expected to last more than a week. The state has 77 people on its potential witness list, including Whitley's ex-boyfriend, who is believed to be the father of the child.

The Whitley trial will also get plenty of attention for another reason. Judge Ola Lewis, 38, of Brunswick County, is the youngest resident Superior Court judge in the state. Lewis served as a District Attorney and a District Court judge before rising to the Superior Court bench.

Lewis is one of only two women on the Superior Court in North Carolina.


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