A live-in housekeeper who admitted in a Riverhead court that she killed her baby girl minutes after giving birth in a bathroom at her employer’s West Islip house in 2014 was sentenced Thursday to 15 years to life in prison.
Santos Elena Ruiz Solano, 29, a native of Honduras residing in the United States illegally, said she hid her pregnancy from her husband because she was raped by his brother. She expressed regret for killing her daughter on Feb. 16, 2014.
“I just want to apologize ...,” Ruiz Solano said through a Spanish interpreter.
Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen L. Braslow rejected Ruiz Solano’s expression of remorse, saying she had other options, including seeking help.
“You cold-heartedly murdered an infant baby that was born to you,” the judge said before he imposed sentence.
The baby girl died of blunt force trauma caused by three fractures of the skull, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe said. It’s believed Ruiz Solano struck the infant’s head against an object or on the floor.
Ruiz Solano pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree intentional murder. She faces deportation when and if she is released on parole.
Ruiz Solano’s husband, Selvin Adonis Hernandez, was not the infant’s father, Newcombe said. She said authorities don’t know who the father was.
Ruiz Solano’s attorney, Richard Stafford of Bohemia, told the judge that his client was a victim of physical and sexual abuse by those closest to her, including an attempted rape when she was just 8 years old. In the pre-sentencing report, which contained Ruiz Solano’s background, she said her husband’s brother raped her during their journey from Honduras to the United States, according to Stafford.
“On the way up, 40 days with him, he repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped her,” Stafford said. “And, when she got here, her husband abused her; kept her in a locked room for three months.”
A psychologist hired by the defense to examine Ruiz Solano’s mental condition believed she suffered from extreme emotional disturbance, Stafford said, but the doctor could not testify to that had the case gone to trial because he was unable to corroborate Ruiz Solano’s story. After her arrest, Ruiz Solano’s husband and brother-in-law returned to Honduras.
The baby’s death came to the attention of police after Ruiz Solano’s landlord and her husband took her to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore to be treated for post-birth bleeding.
After the birth, Ruiz Solano put the baby’s body in a plastic garbage bag and called her husband to come pick her up at her employer’s waterfront home, according to the prosecution. Ruiz Solano’s husband arrived with the couple’s landlord, who drove. Ruiz Solano asked her husband to take the garbage bags, one of which contained the baby’s body.
The landlord, who said Ruiz Solano was bleeding profusely, drove the couple to Southside Hospital, according to Newcombe. When they arrived, the landlord and the husband looked inside the bags and saw the infant. The men brought the baby girl to the hospital staff.
Initially, Ruiz Solano told police the baby was stillborn, but the medical examiner’ office said the baby girl was born alive. In another version, she said she dropped the baby into the toilet during the birthing process.
Authorities were unable to substantiate Ruiz Solano’s rape allegation, which Newcombe said Ruiz Solano did not speak of immediately after her arrest.
“Even if she had been raped, I don’t believe that would be a justification to intentionally murder your child,” Newcombe said.