NEW YORK (AP) — A woman who snatched a newborn baby from a New York City hospital more than two decades ago and raised her as her own was being sentenced today.
Ann Pettway will learn her fate from a Manhattan federal court judge.
Pettway, 51, pleaded guilty to a kidnapping charge in February.
During her court appearance then, she offered details of the 1987 kidnapping. She said she took a train from her Connecticut home to Harlem Hospital, where she scooped up three-week-old Carlina White, who had been brought to the emergency room by her parents.
As part of Pettway's plea bargain, prosecutors recommended between 10 and 12½ years in prison. The judge was to decide at the sentencing scheduled for 2:30 pm today.
Carlina's birth mother, Joy White, wept during Pettway's plea in February. "I've lost 23 years of being with my daughter," she said, adding that those decades were filled with pain and heartache.
During the proceeding, Pettway told the court: "I went to the hospital. I took a child. It was wrong."
But she offered no explanation for her action.
White said she encountered Pettway at the hospital on the day her daughter disappeared, dressed like a nurse. "She came up to me and said to me, 'don't cry. Your daughter is going to be OK.'"
The case was solved by Carlina herself.
As she grew up in Connecticut under another name, the girl became increasingly suspicious of her own identity. Pettway told her a drug addict had given away.
Carlina White said she browsed the website of the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children for clues to her identity. After matching a photo of herself with one on the site, she tracked down her true mother and they reunited in January of 2011. A DNA test confirmed they were mother and child.
Today, they speak every day, Joy White said.
"I love my daughter. She's a beautiful girl," she said, adding that she had kept a picture of her missing baby at her bedside for 23 years.