Preliminary results suggest baby found dead in shopping bag born alive, but authorities await results of final forensic examination

By Dave Andrusko

The mother of an eight and a half pound baby found dead in a shopping bag was released without bail after pleading not guilty Friday to petty larceny and possession of stolen property charges.

Preliminary tests suggest Tiona Rodriguez’s baby died of asphyxiation soon after birth, law enforcement sources told the New York Post and WABC.

But authorities aren’t ready yet to bring charges over the death of the baby, found in Rodriquez’ shopping bag at a Victoria Secret story in Midtown New York. “New York Police Department spokesman John McCarthy said that the case was still being investigated and that police were awaiting the medical examiners’ determination of the cause of death” (which could take weeks), WABC reported. The baby’s size points to a full-term birth.

According to WABC, police said Rodriquez and her friend Francis Estevez were acting suspiciously at the store. As they approached Rodriguez and Sanchez, one of the police “smelled a foul odor coming from a bag.” Asked what was inside the bag, one teen said “human remains.”

WABC’s Carolina Leid reported that Rodriguez “allegedly wrapped the baby boy in clothing put him in the bag and has been carrying him ever since.” Rodriguez said she had miscarried on Wednesday at her friend’s home in Queens, but detectives found “inconsistencies” in her story.

The girls were arrested on charges of petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. Rodriquez’s 2-year-old child has been placed in the custody of a family member.

At the bail hearing, assistant district attorney Robert Hettleman said, “Shoplifting with a baby in her bag the entire time certainly suggests a little bit of difficulty following society’s rules”. But a judge in Manhattan Criminal Court denied Hettleman’s request for $1,000 bail.

“The New York Police Department, my office and the office of the Chief Medical Examiner are going to continue to vigorously and thoroughly investigate the matter relating to the baby,” Hettleman said. Rodriguez’s next court date is December 10.

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