Woman charged in newborn’s death pleads not guilty by insanity


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A woman accused of killing a newborn baby has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity 

Judge William Moore accepted the plea from Donita Hawkins late Wednesday morning. She was charged with first-degree murder.

Two local doctors examined Hawkins, 41, in the 17 months since the baby died — and both concluded that Hawkins was impaired by mental illness.

According to court documents, 40-year-old Donita Marie Hawkins told police she smoked crack cocaine the night before. The next morning, around 9 a.m., she awoke to labor pains and gave birth in her bed where she lived on Merrimac Drive.

The documents state that the baby boy, who was full term, was breathing after the delivery. The medical examiner also determined the baby had air in his lungs before its death.

Records show Hawkins used a razor blade to cut the umbilical cord, placed the baby under the covers of her bed and went to sleep.

She notified a friend four hours later, who called a paramedic. Hawkins put the baby in a trash bag – and took him to Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center.

Court documents show Hawkins stated that she did not want the baby, could not afford it and that it was an unwanted pregnancy, Hawkins had given birth eight previous times, but the records gave no further details.

Moore ordered Hawkins for mental health treatment at Central State Hospital in Petersburg. Her next court date is October 22 for a progress evaluation. Because the judge accepted her not guilty by reason of insanity plea, Hawkins can face no further criminal prosecution in the baby’s death.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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