GOSHEN - Nicole Layman wept as she faced a judge Tuesday on murder charges in the death of her newborn daughter.
At times during her arraignment in Orange County Court, the Port Jervis woman dropped her chin to her chest and rocked as she stood at the defense table. She struggled to wipe her eyes, testing the minimal reach of the chains connecting her handcuffs to the belt securing them to her waist.
Andrew Greher, the lawyer assigned by the court to represent Layman, entered a not-guilty plea on her behalf to an indictment that charges her with two counts of second-degree murder and one count each of second-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault, abandonment of a child and tampering with physical evidence in the Nov. 12 death of newborn Sophia Grace Hadden.
The baby’s body was found that frigid night in a vacant lot in Port Jervis, unclothed, uncovered and with part of the umbilical cord attached, officials have said.
Layman, 23, was initially charged with a count of second-degree murder under the theory that she recklessly caused Sophia’s death while acting in a manner demonstrating depraved indifference. The indictment added an intentional murder count, as well as the other charges.
The case has drawn a strong, emotional reaction from the Port Jervis community, including a Facebook group calling for justice for Sophia.
Rather than air the details of the case in an open courtroom on Tuesday, Greher and Senior Assistant District Attorney Christopher Kelly agreed to ask Judge Robert Prisco to set bail at $500,000 cash, $3 million secured bond or $5 million partially secured bond. The judge set bail as requested.
Greher asked the judge to order a psychiatric and competency exam for Layman, and the judge agreed.
As the lawyers reviewed scheduling and legal details on exchanges of evidence, Layman’s tears were visible on her face.
Prisco set April 16 for the next court date, to allow time for the psychiatric exam and report.
“Mental health is a component here,” Greher said after court. “This is somebody who was diagnosed with significant mental health issues, for years.”