When Dawa Lama, 24, gave birth to a healthy baby boy in the bathroom at a Queens hospital last year, she could have easily turned him over to hospital staff if she felt she couldn’t care for the boy. But she didn’t — she threw him in a trashcan. He died seven days later — and now Lama is likely facing some time as a guest of the state.
Lama pleaded guilty this afternoon to one count of first-degree manslaughter in the May, 2011, death of her newborn son, who was posthumously named Mingmar Gurung.
“Today’s guilty plea is a just and
fair disposition to a sad case involving a very troubled young woman.
The defendant has been held accountable for what was a serious but
avoidable crime,” Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown says in a statement about the guilty plea. “New York’s Safe Haven law allows a parent to
anonymously surrender their unwanted newborn infant to personnel in a
safe place – such as a hospital, a police station or a fire station –
and not have to worry about getting in trouble.”
Lama, who reportedly kept her pregnancy a secret from her family, went
to the Elmhurst Hospital on May 10 of last year to register for prenatal
According to Brown, after checking into the hospital, Lama started
experiencing pain in her abdomen and back, and went to use the restroom.
While in the bathroom, Lama gave birth to her son, whom, the district attorney’s office says, was born “alive and
full term with no obvious deformities.”
Lama then removed the umbilical cord and threw the baby in a trash can
— again, New York’s “Safe Haven Law” allows a mother to drop a baby off
at a hospital, fire station, or police station and not face any charges
as long as it’s done within five days of the baby’s birth. Despite
already being in a hospital, Lama threw the kid in the garbage like a
piece of trash.
Lama then left the bathroom, stopping at the front desk of the hospital to pick up her ID before leaving the building.
The baby was discovered later that day when hospital staff found blood on the floor in the bathroom. He was placed on life support for a week, but ultimately died.
Lama’s sentencing is scheduled for April 16, in front of Queens Criminal Court Judge Lenora
Gerald, who indicated today that she will likely sentence Lama to 10 years in prison.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 26, 2012