Two New Jersey teenagers face prison sentences of between 5 to 10 years for their roles in the death of their newborn baby who was killed and tossed into an outdoor trash bin.
Jada McClain, 18, pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated manslaughter by pressing on the chest of her newborn son until he stopped breathing. Quaimere Mohammed, 19, pleaded guilty to disturbing or desecrating human remains. Both teens are from Neptune Township near the Jersey shore.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said Monday that the killing took place in March 2019 shortly after McClain, a student at Neptune High School, gave birth to a son. Police were notified on April 4 that she had recently given birth and that the child was dead.
An investigation revealed that McClain had become pregnant by her boyfriend, Mohammed, a student at Asbury Park High School, in July 2018. Authorities said McClain explained to investigators that she hid the fact that she was pregnant from her parents, and gave birth in the early morning hours of March 29, 2019, in her home.
After giving birth to the child, McClain pressed her hands on the boy’s chest until he stopped breathing, according to the prosecutor’s office. McClain contacted Mohammed, and later that morning, the two disposed of the child’s body in an outdoor trash bin near a public housing complex in Asbury Park. Investigators later recovered surveillance video which captured Mohammed disposing of the child’s body.
Investigators learned that the contents of the trash container, including the newborn’s remains, were transported to the county landfill in Tinton Falls, where they were compacted and buried. The infant’s body was never recovered.
The two are scheduled to be sentenced in state Superior Court on March 20. Under the terms of a plea bargain, McClain faces 10 years in prison, while Mohammed faces five.
A message left with Mohammed’s defense attorney was not immediately returned. Repeated calls to two phone numbers listed online for McClain’s attorney were met with recordings saying the calls could not be completed Monday.
“This case is a horrible tragedy,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni. “An infant is dead and two young people are going to prison. None of this should have happened. Young persons who are not yet ready for parenthood need to understand that there are safe, legal and completely confidential ways to give up custody of a newborn.”
New Jersey has had a law on the books for over 18 years that allows a parent who is unable or unwilling to care for an infant to give up custody of a baby who is less than 30 days old, an act that can be done anonymously.
All that is required is that the baby be brought to a hospital emergency room or police station anywhere in New Jersey. As long as the child shows no signs of intentional abuse, no names or other information is required from the person delivering the baby, the prosecutor said.