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Guilty Plea in Baby Death at Prom

August 20, 1998

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) _ A subdued Melissa Drexler pleaded guilty today to aggravated manslaughter for killing the baby boy she delivered in a restroom toilet stall during her senior prom last year.

Drexler, 20, of Lacey Township had been charged with murder in the baby’s death. Drexler accepted a plea bargain that could lead to her release from prison after three or four years, sources told The Associated Press. She faced a minimum of 30 years in prison if convicted of murder.

Sentencing was set for Oct. 29 before Superior Court Judge John Ricciardi.

Drexler gave a brief statement admitting that she was aware of what she was doing when she delivered the baby on a restroom toilet at a catering hall, and knew that her conduct ``would most certainly result in the death of the baby.″

However, she made no apology in court.

In return for her guilty plea, prosecutors will recommend that Judge Ricciardi sentence her to no more than 15 years in prison. The deal was reached in July, but Ricciardi postponed a hearing at which she was expected to plead guilty.

Drexler was permitted to remain free until she is sentenced. She will serve her term at the Edna Mahon Correctional Facility in Union Township in Hunterdon County, the state’s only prison for women.

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