A 14-year-old girl charged with killing her newborn baby will be tried as an adult in court.
Cassidy Goodson was indicted by a grand jury on Thursday, according to the Lakeland Ledger.
Authorities say that on September 19, Goodson gave birth to her son in a Lakeland, Fla. bathroom, then strangled the baby. When asked why she killed her child, Goodson allegedly told authorities she "didn't know what to do with it." She had reportedly tried to hide her pregnancy using baggy clothes.
The Ledger notes that the maximum penalty for first-degree murder is typically a mandatory life sentence or the death penalty, but Goodson's age prevents her from getting the death penalty. If she were tried as a juvenile, the toughest sentence she could get would keep her locked up until she turned 22.
State Attorney Jerry Hill justified his decision to try Goodson as an adult.
"The decision was fact driven," he said. "I think the facts demand first-degree murder charges."
Police say the high school freshman ultimately used scissors to pry the baby out of her body and into the toilet. Lifting the baby out of the toilet, Goodson "placed her hands on the infant's neck and squeezed until he wasn't moving or breathing any longer," according to a statement released by Polk County Sheriff's Office.
Writing for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Tamar Birckhead expressed hope that the case would bring attention to the plight of teen mothers who hide their pregnancies out of shame:
Infant safe haven laws have been enacted in many states as an incentive for mothers in crisis to relinquish their babies to designated locations, but pregnant teens are poorly positioned to take advantage of these programs. If we are to reconsider how we respond to these acts, we must take steps to understand the causes of infanticide and deal with its complexity.
"It may be too late to change the ultimate outcome for Cassidy Goodson, but thousands of other young girls are currently hiding their pregnancies in our neighborhoods and communities," Birckhead writes.