Days away from the start of her murder trial Katie Stockton comes forward to admit she left her baby outside to die. In a surprise move she changed her plea to guilty to first degree murder.
Since Winnebago County Sheriff Deputies came to her door in 2004 Katie Stockton has said she did not kill Baby Crystal, the name given to the infant found dead along a county road. That changed this morning when, in a deal, prosecutors agreed to drop all the charges except for one first degree murder charge.
"I plead guilty," says Katie Stockton as she wipes tears from her eyes.
Stockton admitted to wrapping her newborn in a plastic bag filled with bloody clothes and leaving the little girl to die during a frigid December day in 2004. But it wasn't until 2009 that detectives matched Stockton's DNA to Crystal's.
Before the judge accepted the plea Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato laid out the case against Stockton. Bruscato said forensic scientists would have testified Crystal was born alive.
"He believes hypothermia is a possible mechanism of death another mechanism is suffocation caused by being wrapped in the plastic and the clothing in which she was found," says Bruscato.
In the deal Stockton faces up to 60 years in prison. Although some community members were happy with the verdict, not everyone liked the terms.
"They could have given her a little more than that because it's just that she took a life."
"The crime fits the punishment."
"I don't think it's enough time. To do that to your own child, how could you even do that to your own child, a little baby like that."
Stockton will be sentenced on April 5th. Both the prosecution and defense attorney did not want to comment on the case until then.
In 2010, the bodies of two other babies were found in the trunk of Stockton's impounded car. She hasn't been charged in those cases. The Winnebago County State's Attorney's office says those cases remain under investigation.
Katie Stockton has pleaded guilty to one count of felony first degree murder. She faces 20 to 60 years in prison.
The Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office was prepared Thursday morning to call forensic experts to testify Stockton was the mother of Baby Crystal, based on DNA evidence. Baby Crystal was shown to be full-term and died of either suffocation in the plastic bag she was left in or of hypothermia.
Stockton will be sentenced April 5; all other charges have been dropped by the State's Attorney's Office.
The woman accused of leaving her baby outside to freeze to death is in court Thursday morning for a last minute hearing.
Katie Stockton is in court for a status hearing, but a possible plea is being discussed.
Stockton faces 12 counts of first degree murder in the death of Baby Crystal. The child was found on a rural Winnebago County road in December 2004 and Stockton was arrested in 2009. Her trial is set to begin on Monday.
The bodies of two other babies were found in the trunk of Stockton's impounded car in 2010, but she has not been charged in those cases.
13 News Reporter Rebecca Klopf is at the court house today. We will bring you updates as they're available.
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