A Bronx, New York, woman who killed her pregnant friend before cutting her baby girl from her body and claiming the newborn as her own was sentenced to 40 years to life on Wednesday.
WABC reported that Ashleigh Wade, 24, will spend 25 years to life in jail for Angelikque Sutton’s murder and 15 years for kidnapping her newborn daughter. The sentences will be served concurrently.
Wade lured Sutton, 22, (pictured left) to her home on November 20, 2015, under the guise of giving her a wedding day gift. Instead, Wade slit Sutton’s throat, cut open her uterus, and removed her baby girl from her body.
“The defendant cut Ms. Sutton’s larynx, her voice box,” Assistant Bronx District Attorney Meredith Holtzman told the jury in late September. “Ms. Sutton could not scream, could not say a word.”
Sutton bled to death as Wade threw her uterus on the bathroom floor. She told officers who arrived at the grisly scene that the newborn was hers.
“She took a great deal of care to avoid the abdomen,” the prosecutor said. “The defendant needed Ms. Sutton to die, and she needed Jenasis to live.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, prosecutors accused Wade of carrying out the unthinkable murder because she was faking her own pregnancy. Images of the murdered mother’s body were so graphic that a juror fainted in court upon seeing them.
The now 2-year-old child, named Jenasis Bradley, survived the traumatic ordeal and was present for Wednesday’s sentencing.
“The child miraculously survived and is thriving; we are pleased to have brought her and her mother’s family a measure of peace and justice,” District Attorney Dracel Clark said.
A jury rejected the defense’s argument that Wade snapped during an argument with Sutton and took her baby as an afterthought. Instead, they found that Wade devised an intricate plan to kill her childhood friend and steal her child.
At sentencing, Wade tearfully apologized for what she had done and begged the court for mercy.
“I’m so sorry. There are no words to express how sorry I am. I’m sorry for hurting so many people. I wish I knew why. I wish I understood, but I don’t know why, and I try so hard,” she said.
Bronx Supreme Court Justice Margaret Clancy appeared unmoved as she called the act “calculated, cunning and, brutal” and dismissed defense attorneys’ claims that Wade was mentally ill.
“Jenasis will tragically be scarred by her birth,” Clancy said before handing down the lengthy sentence, according to the New York Post.
“Where is my mommy? How did she die? When did she die? Her birth will be forever tainted.”
[Featured Image: Angelikque Sutton/Facebook; Jenasis Bradley/WABC video screenshot]