A North Carolina woman has pleaded guilty to charges that she failed to report the deaths of two babies whose remains were found under a house in 2016.
Bridgette Morgan Smith, 41, of Smithfield, North Carolina, was in court Thursday to plead guilty to the two counts of failure to report a death. She had been arrested in Jacksonville, Florida in June and extradited back to North Carolina, where she was then charged and sent to Johnston County Jail on a $30,000 bond.
As part of her guilty plea, Smith will be sentenced to six to eight months in jail for each count, according to The News & Observer. She will also receive credit for the 164 days she has already served in jail and could be eligible for release in about 200 days.
Bridgette Morgan Smith (left and right), 41, has pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to report a death after family members discovered the remains of two babies under her mother’s house in 2016
Each count of failure to report a death usually carries a 39-month jail sentence. Without the plea deal, she would have been sentenced to 6.5 years in jail for both counts.
Smith was charged following an investigation stemming from the discovery of two infant bodies found in garbage bags, in a crawlspace, under a home that Smith’s mother, Pamela McBride, was renting in April 2016.
McBride told authorities that her son, Smith’s brother, James Morgan, came across the two black garbage bags while trying to run a cable through the crawl space.
According to the search warrant, Morgan said that bags were ‘squishy’ and that he ‘recognized that it contained remains of something once living.’ Looking into one of the bags, a police officer said that he saw what appeared to be a newborn’s foot, alongside other human remains.
It was later determined that two infants, each wrapped with towels, had been placed inside separate garbage bags.
Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said in court on Thursday that the DNA evidence revealed that both babies were related to Smith, noting that Smith’s mother claimed the remains were her daughter’s children.
Smith apparently told investigators that the babies were born at the house where they were found and that she had delivered both babies over the toilet, but that the infants were not breathing or crying when born, leading her to wrap the children up and hide then under the house.
Autopsies showed that the fetal remains were about 36 to 42 weeks old. While the medical examiner’s office said it could not determine whether the babies had been born alive, there was physical evidence suggesting that they were born alive.
It’s believed that if the babies had lived, they would have been ages 3 and 5 now.
‘This defendant showed an utter disregard for the lives of her children,’ Doyle said, according to The News & Observer. ‘She chose to treat them like trash.’
In Smith’s defense, her attorney said that she ‘was so scared, she didn’t tell.’
Smith, pictured in court on June, was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida, and extradited to North Carolina. She has been in jail since then on a $30,000 bond. As part of her plea deal, she will be sentenced to up to eight months in jail with credit for time served
Smith’s family, including sister-in-law, Hayley Fugate (showing the crawlspace the babies were found in), estimate that Smith has been pregnant about 10 times, but can only account for the presence of three of those children
In June, Smith’s sister-in-law Hayley Fugate told WTVD that Smith would disappear from the house for months at a time.
‘When she finally came around, she would act like nothing was wrong,’ Fugate said. ‘She’d walk in and be fine. We could be standing face-to-face and she would be big and she would just say she was fat. She would never say she was pregnant ever.’
Smith’s family believes that she was pregnant about 10 times, but can only account for three children.
McBride currently has custody of Smith’s eight-year-old daughter and a toddler son. Another of Smith’s children was said to have been put up for adoption after she had gotten pregnant as a teen.
During interviews with authorities, Smith is said to have been admitted to being a ‘heavy drinker.’ She also claimed to have been using a variety of drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine, pills and uppers, for years, Doyle said in court Thursday.