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Lawyer: Mom didn't kill baby; seeks new forensic exam

Santos Elena Ruiz Solano, 26, of Central Islip,

Santos Elena Ruiz Solano, 26, of Central Islip, at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on March 5, 2014, where she was indicted on a charge of murder in the death of her newborn baby. Credit: James Carbone

An undocumented live-in housekeeper kept her pregnancy a secret and killed her newborn after giving birth in her employer's West Islip home, prosecutors said Wednesday at the woman's arraignment.

An attorney for Santos Elena Ruiz Solano, 26, a native of Honduras, disputed the prosecution's claim the baby was delivered alive during the arraignment in Suffolk County Court.

Central Islip lawyer Michael Brown repeated his claim the child was stillborn. He said he would hire an independent medical examiner to determine the cause of death. He entered a not guilty plea for his client.

Ruiz Solano was ordered held without bail. She was indicted Feb. 25 on a charge of second-degree murder. Ruiz Solano delivered the baby alone Feb. 16 at her employer's waterfront home, police said. She was arrested Feb. 20.

In an interview with authorities, she claimed she was raped on her journey to enter the country, prosecutors said.

In court, Brown said his client was a domestic violence victim in that journey about seven months ago.

Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, declined to comment on the rape allegation, and noted Ruiz Solano's story about the baby's death has changed.

"Her first story to detectives was that she wasn't pregnant and did not give birth . . . and she then changed her story and claimed she had delivered the baby on her own but that the baby was born dead," a Spota news release said.

Prosecutors said the alleged rape may have provided a reason to kill the baby.

In court, Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock said the child died of blunt force trauma caused by three fractures of the skull. He said the medical examiner confirmed "the baby girl was born alive," and the injuries killed her.

"She'd never told anyone she was pregnant, including her husband," Kurtzrock said.

Brown said his client is a mother of two children in Honduras chasing an American dream.

"When she came to this nation, her hope was that she could better herself and her family by working here," he said.

The case came to the attention of police after Ruiz Solano went to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore because of post-birth bleeding. Hospital staff suspected she'd given birth.

Kurtzrock has said Ruiz Solano had her husband bring two bags to the hospital. "One of the bags she told her husband was garbage, and that he should throw it away -- and that was the bag the baby's body was in," he said.

Prosecutors said he put it on top of a garbage pail at the hospital. Authorities found the baby in the trash can.

The father's identity is unknown because DNA testing isn't complete, prosecutors said.

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