Legal News - California teen pleads not guilty in newborn death

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A teenager in Central California pleaded not guilty Thursday to killing her newborn baby, who was found wrapped in plastic bag last week under a bathroom sink.

Gloria Santos Mendoza, 17, was charged as an adult on a single count of first-degree murder, said Madera County Deputy District Attorney Rachel Cartier. If convicted, Mendoza could spend 25 years to life in state prison.

The teenager went to a hospital Friday suffering from postpartum bleeding, but she denied giving birth, Madera County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Erica Stuart said. It took investigators hours to learn where she lived because of a language barrier. The girl speaks a dialect from Oaxaca, Mexico.

Authorities found the dead baby under the sink at the girl's Madera home. Stuart said that when the girl was confronted, she changed her story and said the child was born dead. But Stuart said an autopsy determined the baby was born alive.

Mendoza's attorney, Michael Fitzgerald, said that his first impression was that the prosecution's decision to charge her as an adult with first-degree murder seemed excessive.

The teenager came to Madera from her village in Mexico three days before giving birth, Stuart said. Mendoza remains jailed on $1 million bail.

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