- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 29, 2002

NORFOLK A judge yesterday certified a first-degree murder charge against a Norfolk State University student who told police she drowned her newborn daughter and left the body in a footlocker at a self-storage unit.
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Joseph P. Massey said there was probable cause that Kuturah Aldridge committed the crime. He said, however, that based on the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing, prosecutors may have difficulty proving the charge beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
Miss Aldridge, 18, of the District, told police she gave birth to a girl in a hotel room and then submerged the infant in bath water for about a minute, prosecutor Marjorie A. Arrington said. She gave the judge an 18-page transcript of Miss Aldridge's recorded statement.
Miss Aldridge told police she knew the baby was born alive because "the arms and legs were moving," Miss Arrington said.
Defense attorney Bruce Sams, who tried unsuccessfully to have the hearing postponed, argued that prosecutors failed to prove the baby was murdered. He noted that a preliminary autopsy report listed the cause of death as "pending."
"It's not a matter of whether the child was born alive," Mr. Sams told the judge. "The issue is what caused the child's death."
Mr. Sams said afterward he may appeal the judge's decision to have a grand jury consider the charge next Wednesday.
Norfolk police Detective Brad Huffman testified that he was called to a self-storage facility on Feb. 13 and discovered a book bag containing the decomposed remains of an infant. The book bag bore the initials A.K. and was inside a footlocker in a storage unit rented by Miss Aldridge.
Miss Aldridge was brought to a police operation center that evening, arrested and questioned. Detective Huffman said Miss Aldridge told investigators the baby was alive when she submerged her in the bath water.
"It was an easy way out … so people wouldn't be ashamed of me or hate me," Miss Aldridge said in her statement to police, which was filed previously in court. The statement also said that she changed her mind and tried to revive the infant, but that it was too late.
Police records show the baby died at the Hampton Inn on Oct. 28, and the body was moved to Uncle Bob's Self Storage, less than a mile from Miss Aldridge's dormitory.
Miss Aldridge, who wiped away tears before the hearing started and tapped her foot nervously during the proceedings, declined to comment afterward. She is free on bond.
"This whole ordeal is disheartening for my client," Mr. Sams said outside court. "She's doing well. She's trying to hold on under the pressure of this."


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