A judge allowed a 48-year-old Ohio woman, who recently admitted she was responsible for the death of her newborn baby girl nearly 30 years ago, to go home after receiving a two-year prison sentence with credit for time served. Circuit Judge Frank R. Fuhr on Tuesday handed down the sentence to Angela Renee Siebke for the 1992 death of “Baby April,” the Rock Island County, Illinois court docket shows.
From the docket entry dated Feb. 15:
Cause called for Sentencing. Defendant is in court, in custody with Attorney Hanna. State by SA Villarreal. Court has reviewed and considered the PSI evaluation. No errors, additions or corrections. Defendant gives an unsworn statement. Court hears sentencing alternatives. Court considers factors in aggravation and mitigation. Arguments of counsel heard and considered.
Court sentences the defendant to 2 YEARS IN IL DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, CREDIT FOR TIME SERVED, DAY FOR DAY CREDIT. MONIES REDUCED TO JUDGMENT.
DEFENDANT RELEASED TODAY ON FURLOUGH.
Appeal rights given.
Siebke, who had initially been charged with first-degree murder in the infamous case of Baby April’s death, entered an open plea of guilty to one count of endangering the life of a child resulting in death in November 2021. Because she has been behind bars since her December 2019 arrest, Siebke had less than a year remaining on her sentence, which Judge Fuhr reportedly furloughed at the request of her attorney, Davenport NBC affiliate KWQC-TV reported.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, court documents state that Siebke confessed that — after giving birth when she was 18 years old — she put newborn Baby April in a trash bag which ultimately caused the child’s death. She then tossed the bag in the Mississippi River without telling anyone what happened.
During Tuesday’s proceeding at the Rock Island County Justice Center, Fuhr explained why he felt Siebke, now the mother of six children, should not spend more time in a state facility.
“This is truly a tragic situation,” Fuhr said, according to Moline ABC affiliate WQAD-TV. “There is no danger to the community. There is no danger to others from Miss Siebke, and to sentence her to any long term in the Department of Corrections may deter others but would do nothing but cause further harm to the children that she is currently raising, and from all evidence that I have, [she] has done a good job of raising.”
Given the opportunity to address the court, Siebke reportedly read a brief statement in which she took “full responsibility” for her actions.
“I take full responsibility for not reaching out and getting help almost 30 years ago, when I was 18,” Siebke said through tears, per WQAD. “I’ve lived with this every day of my life. It’s the worst day of my life. I’m sorry I didn’t come forward. But since then, I’ve had children. I have a family. I don’t want to put them through all this, but I’m thankful now that we’re able to move on, gain some peace, and I’m sorry.”
Baby April’s body was discovered on April 11, 1992 when a man walking his dog along the Mississippi River in Moline, Illinois noticed a trash bag floating in the water. He retrieved the bag, pulled it onto the riverbank, and opened it to find the newborn’s decomposing remains inside.
Officers with the Moline Police Department responded to the scene and investigators took DNA samples, but ultimately lacked the technology to make much progress in the investigation. An autopsy performed on the infant’s remains reportedly determined that the cause of death was suffocation asphyxiation and hypothermia. The victim was later buried in Riverside Cemetery.
Investigators got a break in the case when they retested some of the original samples in 2014 and were able to identify a female DNA profile connected to the crime scene evidence. In December 2014, then-Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee announced that prosecutors had filed a first-degree murder charge against the unknown female DNA profile, referred to in court documents as “female contributor to human DNA profile P92-001627 Exhibit3B2.”
The DNA profile was submitted to Parabon NanoLabs, a Virginia-based company that specializes in providing phenotyping services to law enforcement agencies, where analysts were able to identify Siebke as the unknown female suspect.
Detectives with the Moline Police Department then traveled to Siebke’s home in Ohio and served her with a warrant for a sample of her DNA, which matched the sample found at the crime scene. Siebke was reportedly taken into custody by police while staying at a family member’s home in Rock Island on Dec. 17, 2020 and held on $1 million bond.
Even following Siebke’s arrest, many questions remained about the circumstances of Baby April’s death. Her attorney maintained that the child was stillborn throughout the proceedings, a notion he reportedly repeated during the sentencing hearing.
Rock Island County State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal reportedly responded with testimony from a defense expert who stated that the cause of the child’s death was exposure to cold and asphyxia due to infanticide “after the presence of air was found in the newborn girl’s lungs in a float test.”
Siebke’s attorney argued that air in the baby’s lungs could have indicated that someone tried to breathe for the child, the Quad-City Times reported.
[Image via Moline Police Dept.]
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