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Woman pleads no contest to drowning newborn, hiding body

A woman pleaded no contest Thursday in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas to felony charges after admitting she placed her dead newborn baby beneath her home for two years, according to a prosecutor.

Jennifer Cecilia Warren, 41, formerly of Seaside, refused to contest charges of involuntary manslaughter, felony child endangerment with great bodily harm and an enhancement of harming a child under 5 years old, Deputy District Attorney Jeannie Pacioni said.

Warren faces a sentence of up to 11 years in prison at a hearing set for Nov. 20 before Judge Carrie Panetta, according to Pacioni.

Seaside police were called to Warren’s home in the 1200 block of Judson Street on Feb. 22, 2013, after she complained about being harassed by her neighbors.

During an interview with police, Warren volunteered that she gave birth to a baby in a bathtub of water in 2011, prosecutors said.

She told police that she did not want the baby and after washing herself off, allowed the newborn to remain in the water until it stopped moving, then wrapped it in a sweatshirt and put it in a large plastic container that she set beneath her home, Pacioni said.

Officers recovered the box, which contained only liquid and bones, and a medical examiner later could not tell if the newborn drowned, only that its bones had not been injured, the prosecutor said.

Police arrested Warren and four days later she pleaded not guilty in Salinas to murder charges while being held in the county jail on $1 million bail.

As the case progressed, the court ruled that Warren was not mentally able to relate to her legal counsel for her defense and so was sent to a state mental hospital for treatment, according to Pacioni. Her psychological condition stabilized thanks to medication and she was returned to jail when experts determined her competency had been restored, prosecutor said.

Pacioni said:

“She did a great job in terms of her plea today with the judge.”

Prosecutors decided to offer Warren a plea bargain to lesser charges than murder mainly based on her mental state, she said.

Warren detailed in a videotaped interview with police what she did in the bathtub following the child’s birth and how she disposed of the body, Pacioni said.

There was no evidence to the contrary about what happened, according to the prosecutor.

The district attorney’s office has asked the judge to sentence her to the maximum 11 years on the charges, she said.

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