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Plea deal keeps USC student out of jail

May 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Former USC student Holly Ashcraft, accused of dumping her newborn baby in a trash bin, made a plea bargain with prosecutors. The deal will let her avoid any additional time behind bars.After the prosecution tried Holly Ashcraft on murder charges four times, she agreed Tuesday to plead no-contest to a lesser charge in connection to the death of her newborn son more than two and a half years ago.

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"Holly Ashcraft pleaded no-contest to one count of child endangerment. She also admitted to special allegation that it resulted in the death of an infant," said L.A. County District Attorney's Office Spokesperson Jane Robison. "Together that means that she will be placed on probation -- we agreed to that. And she will get credit for time served, which is approximately two years."

In October 2005,the former USC architecture student was arrested and charged with murder after a homeless man found her newborn son's body in a trash bin near her apartment, located a few blocks away from the campus.

A coroner's report concluded the baby was alive when born, but died from prematurity. Judges threw out the murder charges and previous attempts. The last judge recommended she be charged with child endangerment. Ashcraft pleaded no-contest to child endangerment.

"I think it was a resolution that was good for both sides, anytime you have a criminal case, there's a risk," said Ashcraft's attorney Mark Geragos. "Clearly when this case started, she was facing 25 years to life -- to now get a sentence that is, in effect, probation and no further jail time -- obviously that's as good as it gets."

Ashcraft, now 23, was investigated but never arrested or charged after she went to a hospital after giving birth in April 2004. A baby's body was never found.

Ashcraft is due back in court on June 27 to be formally sentenced.

If Ashcraft violates her probation, the judge warned her, she could be sent back to prison for up to 10 years.

 

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