The baby was stillborn.
The second degree murder charge against 18 year old Lillian Elizebeth Sosa has been dismissed because an autopsy has determined that the baby she gave birth to last month at the El Rancho Restaurant where she worked was never alive.
Assistant District Attorney General Bill Locke made the Thursday in DeKalb County General Sessions Court as Sosa stood before Judge Bratten Cook II.
Locke told Judge Cook that since the state can't prosecute Sosa on the murder charge, the D.A.'s office has now charged her with abuse of a corpse.
An interpreter translated the announcement to Sosa who speaks little or no English.
Locke later talked with members of the local media about the case. "We got the autopsy back from Dr. (Bruce) Levy's Office (State Medical Examiner) concerning this child. It was their opinion and what they would testify is that the child or baby never was alive so therefore the murder case had to be dismissed since the child never was alive. I guess technically you can't kill something that's never been alive so we had to dismiss the murder charge but we have filed charges on the abuse of a corpse today. We felt like the way the facts and circumstances behind how this baby was disposed of was criminal and we're going to prosecute it and go forward with that."
Bond for Sosa on the abuse of a corpse charge is $25,000. and she remains in jail. Locke says the range of punishment for that offense is from one to two years in prison.
When asked if Sosa is here legally, Locke responded, "I think she's illegal. We'll notify Immigration but whether or not they do anything, I don't know, but we can notify them and I think that's in the works."
Sosa was arrested last month after she gave birth to a child and then dumped it in a ladies restroom trash can at the El Rancho Restaurant at 1101 West Broad Street.
According to Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, Sosa apparently locked herself in the ladies restroom of the restaurant and gave birth to the child on Friday night, October 26th. She then came out of the restroom, told her boss that she needed to leave because she was sick, and called for someone to give her a ride home. Sosa's aunt reportedly came to the restaurant and picked her up.
Jennings says the child was discovered around 9:20 p.m. by a waitress, Karla Leon, who went into the ladies rest room to clean up, as staff were preparing to close the restaurant for the night.
Leon then reported her discovery to the manager and they called 911. Customers had already left the restaurant when she discovered the body.
Agents Billy Miller and Dan Friel of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation were notified and joined the Smithville Police Department in the investigation later that night, and after interviewing employees, decided they needed to talk to Sosa.
After discovering where she lives, Sheriff Patrick Ray went to the address on Talley Road and picked her up around 4:00 a.m. Saturday. She was brought to the Smithville Police Department, where she was interviewed by the TBI agents.
During the questioning of Sosa through an interpreter, agents determined she was a likely suspect in the case and took her to DeKalb Community Hospital for an examination. The emergency room doctor found that she had recently given birth and suggested that she undergo emergency surgery, because she had suffered some potentially life threatening complications during the delivery.
Sosa was then transported to the Cookeville Hospital early Saturday morning, October 27th. She came through the surgery fine and was released on Monday, October 29th after which she was taken into custody.
The infant, a male, fully developed child, weighed 5 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 19 inches long. Chief Jennings says it appears the mother carried the child about eight months.
EMS personnel initially thought the baby was alive but Locke says the autopsy concluded that the child was dead at the time of birth. "Initially when the charges were brought, going by what we had to go on that night and of course it was very traumatic for everybody involved to see this situation, I guess indications were that maybe they thought the baby might have breathed or been alive but upon further investigation it seems that the autopsy findings would be correct. We don't have anybody that would say the baby was alive and then with the autopsy findings saying the baby never was alive, there's no way to proceed with that."