Local News

Raleigh woman sentenced in NY baby-snatching

Posted July 30, 2012 9:33 a.m. EDT
Updated August 6, 2012 1:19 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh woman was sentenced Monday to 12 years in federal prison for snatching a newborn from a New York City hospital more than two decades ago, according to federal court records.

As part of an agreement, Ann Pettway admitted in February that she kidnapped Carlina White from Harlem Hospital in 1987.

"I went to the hospital. I took a child. It was wrong," Pettway said during a court hearing.

Defense attorneys had asked that Pettway be sentenced to the minimum of 10 years stipulated in the plea agreement. They contend that Pettway suffered from depression after several miscarriages and stillbirths and that she was a good mother to White.

"It was an offense that was motivated not by greed or desire to do harm but by a desperate desire to have a child," Pettway's lawyers stated in court documents. "She replaced the dead infant with a live baby and persisted in the delusion that it was her baby."

Prosecutors asked for a sentence of at least 20 years, saying in court that she would have faced a lengthy sentence for kidnapping if she had been caught in 1987 and that the passage of time only aggravated the situation.

They also noted that Pettway was convicted five times while White was in her care and admitted to routinely using drugs.

White's mother, Joy White, said she was angry with the plea deal.

"I've lost 23 years of being with my daughter," Joy White said after the court hearing.

Carlina White, now 25, was 19 days old when her parents took her to the hospital on Aug. 4, 1987, with a high fever.

Joy White and Carl Tyson said a woman who looked like a nurse comforted them, and the couple left the hospital to rest. Their baby was missing when they went back the following day.

White, who had been living under the name Nejdra Nance in Connecticut and in the Atlanta area, said she had long suspected Pettway wasn't her biological mother because she could never provide her with a birth certificate and because she didn't look like anyone else in Pettway's family.