Ashleigh Wade, the New York woman who fatally stabbed her friend before cutting the victim’s baby out of her womb, will spend 40 years to life in prison on second degree murder and kidnapping convictions.
The 24-year-old woman, who was found guilty last month, wept in court on Wednesday before she was sentenced.
“I’m so, so sorry,” she said through her tears. “No words can say how sorry I am. I’m sorry for hurting so many people. I wish I knew why.”
During the trial, Assistant District Attorney Meredith Holtzman told the jury that Wade faked a pregnancy in 2015 when she lured her friend, Angelikque Sutton, to her home. When Sutton arrived, Wade slashed her in the face and neck, cutting her larynx so that she couldn’t scream. Although Sutton fought back, she bled to death.
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Subsequently, Holtzman told the jury, Wade took a paring knife to Sutton’s abdomen and cut out her uterus, removing the baby.
The baby girl was named Jenasis. Holtzman told the jury that Wade wrapped up the newborn and fed her a bottle of formula. She then told her boyfriend that she’d just had a baby — but that she’d done a bad thing.
The prosecutor read a written confession by Wade in court and the defense conceded many of the case’s details, but argued that Wade was mentally disturbed, and that she truly believed that the baby was her own.
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After the murder, Wade told detectives that she wanted to “rescue” the baby because she had lost her own. Prosecutors say that Wade’s supposed pregnancy was actually imaginary. “I sat there thinking about my child that died and thought that I couldn’t have any more children die so I rescued the baby,” she wrote in a confession to authorities. “Holding her felt right and I believed that the little girl was mine.”
Jenasis is now a healthy toddler living with family members.
In court on Wednesday, State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Clancy imposed a sentence of 25 years to life for the murder, plus an additional 15 years in prison for kidnapping. The kidnapping sentence will be served consecutively to the murder sentence.
An attorney for Wade did not return PEOPLE’s call for comment. It was not immediately clear if she planned to appeal her conviction or sentence.