A Baton Rouge woman serving 12 years in prison for discarding her newborn infant daughter in a trash dumpster in 2002 has commented publicly for the first time, saying "panic and fear" drove her actions on that tragic day.
JoAnn King, 35, claims she did not know she was pregnant at the time of the infant's birth.
"The defendant was alone, scared, in shock and with the fetus not moving, breathing and appearing under developed defendant made the ... mistake of putting the victim in the sanitation bin and later passed out," King wrote in a recent court filing. She said the mistake was irrevocable.
King was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in 2012 after detectives linked her DNA to that of the baby. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter and cruelty charges in 2014 and was sentenced to a dozen years in prison.
King filed a motion on her own behalf in June to correct what she called an illegal sentence, but she withdrew the motion Thursday after state District Judge Trudy White explained to her that she would not be under house arrest after she is paroled in 2022.
King's attorney, Fred Kroenke, said Friday that she will be under court supervision from 2022 until 2030.
BFI garbage truck workers discovered the child the morning of Dec. 6, 2002, dangling from a ripped garbage bag in the back of the truck on Iberia Street. The workers found the infant just before she would have passed through the garbage compactor.
The baby, who likely had been born the day before, died from a blow to the head, probably once she was in the truck, the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office said.
King, in her recent court filing, said the infant died "as a result of an erroneous mistake by defendant in disposing of the fetus (pre-mature baby) not knowing it was fully developed and in a state of panic and fear."
Kroenke said King had never been to a doctor in her life.
"This girl lived a life of absolute isolation," he said. "She was completely unsocialized."
Kroenke said King dove into "10 years of complete depression and pain" after the 2002 incident, which she told no one about until police arrested her a decade later. He said she immediately confessed to police.
Now, Kroenke said, she is doing remarkably well in prison.
Asked if King is remorseful, he replied, "Oh Lord, yes!"
King's ex-boyfriend and father of the slain infant called King a "baby-killer" at her 2014 sentencing. Matthew Crane said he did not know the child ever existed until King was arrested. A paternity test later proved he was the biological father.
Louisiana has a safe haven law that provides a safe and legal last resort to prevent abandonment of a baby. Parents can leave newborns at hospitals and police and fire stations up to 60 days after birth without being prosecuted.