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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Friday, May 23, 2014

District Woman Sentenced To Four Years In Prison For Death Of Infant Son At Northeast Washington ConventDefendant Smothered Baby Shortly After Giving Birth

     WASHINGTON – Sosefina Amoa, 26, formerly of Samoa, was sentenced today to four years in prison on a charge of voluntary manslaughter stemming from the death of her infant son at a convent in Northeast Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

     Amoa pled guilty to the charge in February 2014 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. She was sentenced by the Honorable Robert E. Morin. Upon completion of her prison term, Amoa will be placed on five years of supervised release. She also is subject to deportation proceedings.

     According to a proffer of facts presented at the plea hearing, Amoa arrived in the United States from Samoa on Oct. 5, 2013. She then entered a program to become a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor, an international congregation of Roman Catholic women who provide worldwide service to the elderly poor. She was considered a “Postulant,” a person who wanted to be admitted into a religious order. Amoa moved into the Little Sisters of the Poor’s convent in Northeast Washington, where she was to reside for five months while she received religious classes, learned doctrine, experienced prayer and community life, and cared for residents.

     On Oct. 10, 2013, Amoa asked to be excused from her duties and went to her room. The baby was born in Amoa’s room that morning. Amoa cleaned the room in what authorities determined was an attempt to hide the birth of the child.

     The following morning, Oct. 11, 2013, Amoa contacted one of the Sisters and took her to her room, where she showed her the baby. The Sister knew that the infant was dead.

     Amoa gave conflicting accounts to the Sisters and police about what happened. Ultimately, on Oct. 16, 2013, she told detectives with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) that, after she gave birth to the child, the baby fell to the floor. She said that she got on the floor next to the baby, not knowing what to do, and that she was afraid that someone would hear crying and learn of her pregnancy. According to Amoa, she then placed a wool garment over the baby’s nose and mouth and applied pressure with her hand for two to three minutes.

     The District of Columbia Office of the Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death was asphyxia. The infant was a fully developed, full-term baby, born alive. There was evidence in the lungs that the baby had cried and had been alive before being asphyxiated. Additionally, there was bruising and scratches to the infant’s nostrils.

     In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of the detectives, officers, and others who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department. He also expressed appreciation to the District of Columbia Office of the Medical Examiner and the District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences for assistance in the investigation. Finally, he acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Kelly Blakeney, Victim/Witness Advocates Marcia Rinker and Lorraine Chase, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia G. Wright, who prosecuted the case.


Updated February 19, 2015