GOSHEN - A grand jury has handed up an intentional murder charge against a Port Jervis woman in the death of her newborn daughter.
Nicole Layman, 23, was indicted Monday by an Orange County grand jury in the Nov. 12 death of newborn Sophia Grace Hadden, whose body was found in a vacant lot adjacent to Hornbeck Avenue in Port Jervis. Officials said an autopsy and the investigation that followed showed that Sophia was born alive, that Layman abandoned her, and that Sophia died from exposure to the night’s bitter cold.
Police said the baby was premature, about 30 weeks gestation, but was born alive and could have survived had she not been abandoned. Her body was found unclothed and uncovered on a rock, with part of the umbilical cord attached.
The Port Jervis community reacted to the baby’s abandonment and death with a mix of outrage and grief. As police and prosecutors continued their investigation and awaited forensic test results, community members created a Facebook group more than 1,000 members strong, to call for justice for Sophia Grace.
Police arrested Layman on Feb. 18, charging her initially with a count of second-degree murder that alleges she caused Sophia’s death by recklessly acting in a way that exhibited depraved indifference to life and created a grave risk of death to a child younger than 11.
Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler acknowledged at the time of the arrest that “there are probably some mental health issues in the case.”
The six-count indictment adds a second count of second-degree murder, this one charging that Laymen intentionally caused Sophia’s death; and one count each of second-degree manslaughter, abandonment of a child, first-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.
Layman remains in Orange County Jail without bail, awaiting arraignment Tuesday in Orange County Court.