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Sophia Whitley Takes Stand In Own Defense

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LILLINGTON, N.C. — A Harnett County woman, accused of killing her newborn son in July 2002, took the stand in her own defense.

Sophia Whitley said she has a kidney disease that makes her body swell and she did not know that she was pregnant. She told jurors Tuesday that she saw blood coming out when she was in the bathroom.

"I looked down and there was my baby," Whitley said. "I almost passed out. I was so scared."

Whitley said the baby was not moving or breathing after she gave birth. However, N.C. State Medical Examiner Dr. John Butts said he noticed air in the baby's body after he performed the autopsy.

Whitley said her younger sisters were at the door of their parents' home, so she picked up her baby, wrapped him in towels and put him in a plastic bag and put the bag in the trunk of her car.

"The only thing I could think of to do was to hide that, so they would not see that and remember that for the rest of their lives," she said.

Whitley said she have named her newborn son, Justice. Whitley also admitted that she used cocaine and drugs were found in her baby's system.

The judge in the case agreed Tuesday to dismiss first-degree murder charges against Whitley. The judge's ruling means that Whitley will be tried on second-degree murder charges instead.

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