On Jan. 5, a woman from the Bronx, New York, pleaded not guilty to murdering a pregnant childhood friend and cutting the victim's baby from her womb.
Ashleigh Wade, 22, faces second-degree murder, kidnapping and weapons possession charges related to the Nov. 20 slaying. Wade had recently reconnected with childhood friend Angelique Sutton, also 22, via Facebook, and reportedly invited the pregnant woman to her home. Sutton was 12 days away from her due date at the time, WNBC notes.
When Sutton arrived, Wade allegedly stabbed her old friend, killing her before carving the baby out of her in a crude cesarean section, prosecutors said.
When police arrived, they found Wade's boyfriend, Angel Praylow, standing outside and cradling the newborn, who miraculously survived the brutal birth, the New York Post noted. Wade was reportedly hysterical, yelling "It's my baby!" at officers who arrived to find the blood-soaked murder scene.
The baby girl, later named Jenasis, has been in the custody of Sutton's family since receiving medical treatment and is reportedly healthy, according to the New York Daily News.
After initially trying to convince cops that she was the one who gave birth, Wade told police that Sutton attacked her, and she stabbed the pregnant woman in self-defense. Then she claimed she acted quickly and "rescued" the child, according to a police report cited by the Daily News.
“I sat there thinking about my child that died and thought that I couldn't have any more children die so I rescued the baby,” Wade wrote in her statement. “Once she was out I fed her and wrapped her in some blankets to keep her warm. Holding her felt right and I believed that that little girl was mine.”
Officials told the Daily News that Wade miscarried earlier in 2015 after she had been pregnant for 4 1/2 months. Wade is due back in criminal court in April, reported WNBC, which noted that Wade's attorney did not return calls for comment.
Sutton's father attended Wade's initial Jan. 5 court hearing, in which she was formally arraigned on the charges. William Sutton, a bishop at Zion Hill Pentecostal Church in the Bronx, said he has forgiven Wade for killing his daughter.
“We’ll pray for her too,” Sutton said. “We’re all about forgiveness. We’re Christians. She has a soul, just like everybody else.”