45 days, less time served.
That was the sentence handed down in the case of Mia Sardella, the Drexel University freshman whose newborn son was found in the trunk of her car exactly two years ago. An anniversary gift, of sorts. It was also just one of many ironies in a case that many believe shows that justice is only blind if you are poor.
A sad ending to a sad case.
"Unconventional" is the way the Inquirer described it, in Woman gets weekend jail in infant death:
After listening to tearful, impassioned pleas for probation for a 20-year-old Drexel Hill woman accused of killing her newborn son, a Delaware County Court judge imposed an unconventional prison term: 21 1/2 weekends.As the Delaware County paper reported, U.D. woman sentenced to 21 weekends in jail:* * * *[Judge] Jenkins sentenced Sardella to nine months to two years, less a day, on the charge of involuntary manslaughter. The judge said Sardella must spend 45 days in prison, in 48-hour increments, and will get credit for the two days she has served. The remainder of the nine months will be house arrest, followed by 15 months of probation.
Exactly what occurred to Sardella’s infant son at the time of his Jan. 1, 2007, birth remains a question mark, as prosecution and defense experts differ over whether the child was stillborn or born alive and died from asphyxiation.The Inquirer provides a summary of the tortured history of this case, Woman sentenced in baby’s death:
The body of Sardella’s infant son was found by her mother stuffed in a duffel bag in a car trunk — exactly two years ago to the day Thursday.
The dark-haired, diminutive Sardella, 20, of Upper Darby, was sentenced Thursday to serve 21 weekends in jail to be followed by nine months house arrest, and two years of service helping girls so they avoid doing what she did.
Besides the weekend jail sentence, Judge Patricia Jenkins ordered that Sardella is to contribute time to Project Cuddle, a California-based organization that helps girls consider alternatives to baby abandonment or death.
Sardella was sentenced two years after police pulled a dead newborn male from a duffle bag in a Drexel Hill car trunk. Police said Sardella, who was a Drexel University freshman at the time, concealed her pregnancy and gave birth while she was home on Christmas break. She hid the infant's body in the trunk of her Volkswagen Beetle, according to police.I had predicted that Sardella would receive little or no time (other than the house arrest that she has been under) when all was said and done. See It's No Contest. A case of the right kind of Justice for Just Us. The case has received national attention -- and criticism over the handling of the case. the Inquirer noted,
Sardella initially faced a first-degree murder charge after Delaware County Medical Examiner Fredric N. Hellman concluded in May 2007 that the baby was alive at birth and died of asphyxiation.
In October 2007, the District Attorney's Office backed off that finding and withdrew the first-degree murder charge.
She pleaded no-contest in December to involuntary manslaughter, abuse of a corpse, and concealing the death of a child.
I have followed this case from the beginning. See, e.g, Different Strokes for Different Folks, Momma Mia and Mini Mia. And I have said many times before that the case is heartbreaking. Not only because of the loss of life of her infant son, but the life of a young woman who make a tragic mistake that she will pay for well beyond the sentence served. Yet many others have done far less, but receive the harsh hand of justice, merely because they are less fortunate.
"The outcome is appropriate," Deputy District Attorney Michael Galantino said of the sentence.
Galantino said he believed his office could have proved the murder charge, but he said the evidence suggested "this defendant's conduct was more reckless than malicious."
Galantino and Donato denied accusations from police and the public that Sardella received preferential treatment because she is a granddaughter of Albert E. Piscopo, chief executive of the Glenmede Trust Co. The investment firm manages high-end portfolios, including the assets of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The moral of the story is simple: the quality of mercy is much better if you come from the right place.