Erma Stephen, the 35-year-old nanny accused of killing her newborn son, was sentenced Feb. 28 in connection with the Nov. 26, 2006 death of her child, according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
In November 2007, Nassau County Judge George Peck found Stephens guilty of manslaughter - 2nd degree and guilty of tampering with evidence and was sentenced to serve three and one-third to 10 years in prison. Stephens was acquitted of second degree murder charges, said Rice.
In December 2006, Stephens was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the death of her male newborn. A commuter had found the baby, umbilical cord still attached, dead in a plastic bag on a platform at the Hicksville Long Island Rail Road station. According to Rice, Stephens later admitted to police that the baby was hers and that she was the one responsible for abandoning the child at the train station.
"Our job is to provide a voice for the voiceless and we will remain aggressive when it comes to holding people accountable who prey on the most defenseless among us," said Rice, who had recommended the nanny face a maximum of 19 years in prison.
The district attorney said it was important that her office refused to plea bargain with the defendant and that her case go to trial. Rice said that there were no eyewitnesses to the death of the child and that Stephens never confessed to intentionally killing the baby. She also said that the autopsy performed on the child proved to be inconclusive in determining how the child asphyxiated.
"While this was an exceptionally difficult case to prosecute, we owed it to this innocent baby to hold this woman accountable for her actions and to prosecute her to the fullest extent of the law," said Rice following last Thursday's sentence.
Madeline Singas, assistant district attorney and bureau chief of the DA's Special Victim's Bureau, along with Assistant District Attorney Theresa Tebbett, handled the case for the DA's Office. Stephens was represented by Ken Montgomery, Esq., of Brooklyn.
The Children of Hope Foundation and Nassau County Police Department's Homicide Squad took legal custody of the deceased newborn, who became known as Nicholas Hope, and provided him with a dignified burial. After a brief graveside ceremony, Nicholas Hope was laid to rest in a tiny white coffin adorned with flowers and stuffed animals next to 98 other abandoned infants at Holy Rood Cemetery's Island of Hope.