Tuesday, October 2, 2012

14-Year-Old Chokes Her Newborn Son to Death

A 14-year-old Lakeland girl is charged with first-degree murder after telling detectives she choked her baby just after he was born.


LAKELAND | A 14-year-old Lakeland girl choked her newborn son to death earlier this month, investigators said Friday.

Cassidy Goodson has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse by the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

"Her son was still connected to her by the umbilical cord when she choked him to death," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. "I just can't get over that."

Cassidy, of 7078 Greenbrier Village Drive, off Duff Road in North Lakeland, was arrested Thursday and is in the Polk County Juvenile Detention Center.

In a brief hearing Friday morning, Circuit Judge Mark Carpanini ordered her to remain in secure detention. An assistant public defender has been appointed to represent her.

At the hearing, prosecutors said they would be considering whether to charge the teen as an adult.

Deputies had been called to Lakeland Regional Medical Center on Sept. 19 after receiving reports of a teen girl being treated for a miscarriage, the Sheriff's Office said.

Three days later, the Sheriff's Office received a call saying the girl's mother, Teresa Goodson, had found a full-term baby inside a shoebox with soiled clothing at their residence.

The 911 call from Teresa Goodson was ‘‘frantic," Judd said.

Teresa Goodson had been collecting dirty laundry when she smelled an odor in her daughter's room and discovered the deceased newborn.

Homicide detectives went to the home and were told by Cassidy Goodson that she started to feel ill Sept. 17 and the discomfort continued through Sept. 19. Sometime between 7 and 10 a.m. on Sept. 19, she went into labor.

The girl, who is a ninth- grader at Kathleen High School, told detectives she went into the bathroom, placed a towel in her mouth and turned on the water to hide any noise she might make during delivery.

A one point, labor pains were so intense she took a pair of scissors to "pry the baby out," she told detectives. She eventually delivered a 9.5-pound, 20.4-inch baby boy alive.

Goodson told detectives she could feel the baby's pulse. She then put her hands around the infant's neck and squeezed for about a minute until he wasn't moving or breathing, Judd said.

Goodson then showered with the dead baby, cleaning both her body and his, Judd said.

He said she put the baby into a shoebox along with soiled clothing and towels.

Detectives said the girl, who weighs 100 pounds and is 5 feet 3 inches tall, had tried to conceal her pregnancy by wearing baggy clothing for the past several months.

That included wearing baggy sweaters during the summer, Judd said.

Judd said Teresa Goodson's two sisters told her they thought Goodson was pregnant, but she wouldn't listen. "She was in complete denial," Judd said.

Goodson had taken two home pregnancy tests and both showed she was not pregnant, detectives said. However, both tests were conducted by the girl alone with no parent present because her mother wanted to protect her daughter's privacy, Judd said.

An autopsy determined the baby was a full-term infant and that he was alive and breathing prior to death. The cause of death was a result of asphyxia from strangulation and blunt force trauma, the Sheriff's Office said.

Detectives are working on determining who the father of the baby is, Judd said. He said they may have an idea of his identity, but don't have confirmation yet.

Goodson showed little or no emotion when she was interviewed by detectives, Judd said.

Usually upbeat, even jubilant, when announcing the arrests of killers, drug dealers or child-sex predators, Judd was somber Friday as he repeatedly said, "Let's remember she is a child.

"Where was her support system?"

Judd said detectives are still investigating and haven't ruled out the possibility of charging adults who may have known about the pregnancy of the underage girl and helped keep it a secret.

The state Department of Children and Families is also investigating.

Goodson is an accomplished softball player who has played on several youth teams, said North Lakeland Little League President Bubba Garcia.

"She is pretty good," Garcia said.

He said Goodson is a good hitter who plays in the infield, including catcher.

Garcia said rumors were flying during the summer about Goodson being pregnant. But Garcia would not say whether he asked Goodson's parents about it or urged them to get her checked.

The Goodson family lives in a modest, well-kept mobile home park.

Neighbors said they were not familiar enough with the family to comment.

A woman who lives in the mobile home park said she drives past the Goodsons' home daily and sometimes sees family members outside, including Cassidy Goodson. But it has been a while, Marty Saunders said.

"Cassidy was tiny," Saunders said. "She couldn't have been 100 pounds."


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