WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – A Mamaroneck mother pleaded guilty in county court in White Plains Thursday in the smothering death of her four-year-old son in 2012.
Manuela Morgado, 48, faces up to 25 years-to-life in prison for the charge of second-degree murder, a class A-1 felony. She previously pleaded not guilty to the charge and pre-trial hearings were scheduled to begin Sept. 29.
A trial conference was held Wednesday, where lawyers typically discuss the upcoming trial dates and other issues.
Then, the lawyers for both parties struck a deal., leading to a last-minute hearing Thursday, according to a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office said. Morgado's lawyer said at the hearing that the defendant wanted to spare her family and her ex-husband further pain, according to a published report.
Morgado and Dr. Timothy Reish, of Briarcliff Manor, had been in a custody dispute over their son, Jason "Jake" Reish. She told Village of Mamaroneck police responding to her home at 1030 E. Post Road Oct. 1, 2012 that she killed her son because she didn't want anyone to take him from her.
“This defendant, over an extended period of time, methodically planned, purchased the materials used and carried out the murder of her four year old child all in the horribly misguided attempt to make sure the child’s father would not have anything more to do with their lives,” Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said in a statement. “As a result of her actions, an innocent child is dead and she will live with that for the rest of her life.”
Reish, who has said he would continue to show up until there is justice for his son, was in the courtroom Thursday.
“The level of pain family, friends, teachers feel is totally umeasurable,” Reish said after Morgado was arraigned in December 2012. “No loving parent should ever have to endure this. The grieving process is never going to end.”
Police arrived at Morgado's apartment Oct. 1, 2012 to find her in her room lying on the bed with her son, who police described as lifeless. He died on the scene. She told police she tried to suffocate him by administering helium. When he struggled, she took his hands and covered his mouth and nose, then put her weight on top of him and his face down into the pillow. She told police she “snuggled” him.
Jason suffocated to death.
Officers found a suicide note, along with open Benadryl and cold medicine bottles and Xanax.
Morgado is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 3.
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