Friday, October 15, 2010

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A woman who abandoned her newborn 5-pound son in a neighbor’s yard after secretly giving birth last year outside her Wheaton apartment received a maximum three-year prison term today.

Nunu Sung, a refugee from Myanmar, was sentenced as part of a deal that saw her plead guilty to a felony charge of obstructing justice for lying to police about giving birth to the infant on June 12, 2009.

The petite, dark-haired Sung, now 25, wept softly throughout the hearing, then was immediately taken into custody after DuPage County Judge Blanche Fawell imposed the prison term.

Sung, who has been in the United States for about four years, accepted the prison sentence because she hopes it will allow her to remain in the U.S. and to ultimately gain custody of her son, her attorney said following the hearing.

“She’s taking a very difficult sentence for her to both stay here and eventually reunite with her child,” DuPage County Public Defender Jeff York said.

As part of her plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to seek to terminate her parental rights to the child, whom hospital workers named “Joshua” while he was in their care.

Sung, who had been free on bond, had been seeing her son weekly in supervised visits since August 2009, though he remains in foster care under the supervision of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

She likely will serve more than a year behind bars before being paroled. York said it wasn’t immediately clear if she would be allowed to see her son while she is locked up.

Sung became pregnant while living in Texas, authorities said, then moved to Wheaton in February 2009 to live with a cousin and the cousin’s husband — though she hid her pregnancy from them, officials have said.

Sung left her apartment several hours before giving birth, telling her relatives she was going for a walk. They contacted police early on June 12, 2009, to report Sung hadn’t returned home, though officers later found Sung in the apartment.

While she was being questioned by police, a neighbor discovered Sung’s naked, newborn infant — with part of the umbilical cord still attached — crying softly under bushes at the edge of the neighbor’s property.

Sung ultimately admitted giving birth to the youngster, who suffered no serious medical problems despite his unusual birth.

Sung has accepted that she erred in abandoning the youngster and agreed to the prison term in hopes it will enable her to ultimately keep her child and her residency in the U.S.

“Trying to get her kid back was her first priority, staying here was her second priority — and her own welfare was her last concern,” York said.

Sung said little during the hearing but repeatedly dabbed her eyes after the judge handed her a box of tissues early in the sentencing hearing. She waved to several relatives and friends as she was taken from the courtroom to begin her sentence.

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