THE BRONX — She wanted the mother to die, but for the baby to live.
That's what a prosecutor argued at the beginning of the trial of the Wakefield woman who killed an expectant mother and bride-to-be then cut the baby from her victim's abdomen to claim it as her own.
“She was able to do it without causing any injury to the baby. It’s a miracle and it’s also proof of guilt,” said Meredith Holtzman, a prosecutor for the Bronx District Attorney's Office, in her opening arguments Monday.
Ashleigh Wade is accused of killing Angelikque Sutton in Wade's Bronx apartment. Sutton had recently reconnected with Wade on Facebook and the two had bonded over their pregnancies, Holtzman said. Sutton, the daughter of a bishop, was on her way to be married at the courthouse on Nov. 20, 2015, when she stopped by Wade's apartment to pick up a gift.
Once lured to Wade's home, Wade stabbed and slashed her in the face and neck, cutting her larynx to staunch her cries.
"Ms. Sutton could not scream, could not say a word,” Holtzman said.
She said Sutton, who also had injuries to her hands, fought back but bled to death.
In the first part of the attack, Holtzman said, all of the injuries were from the neck up. Then, Wade took a paring knife to Sutton's abdomen and cut out her uterus, removed the baby, then discarded the organ, Holtzman said.
The child is now a healthy toddler.
“One of the most amazing things about this case is that Jenasis survived,” Holtzman said.
Once Wade had the baby, who had already been named Jenasis by her parents, the attacker made a bottle of formula for the infant, wrapped her up, and told her boyfriend she had just given birth but that she'd also done something terrible.
The prosecution plans to show surveillance video of Wade's boyfriend walking out with a newborn baby he thought was his own. Wade initially told the police the baby was hers.
Wade had been spreading the lie that she herself was pregnant. She even had a date by which she said if she didn't give birth she'd be induced, Holtzman said. She had baby shoes, diapers, baby clothes, formula “everything that an expectant mother would need, except a baby. She didn’t have a baby," the prosecutor said.
“Ashleigh Wade, the defendant, wanted what Angelikque Sutton had,” she said.
While the defense does not dispute the main facts of the crimes Wade is charged with, the case comes down to the defendant's intent. Wade is being tried on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping and criminal possession of a weapon.
“This trial is not so much about what happened but about why,” Wade's lawyer Amy Attias said.
“Was this an intentional murder with the goal of kidnapping this baby or did something else go wrong?” she asked, arguing that Wade had not planned an escape and that police had found her in her apartment.
“This happened in Ms. Wade’s home where she was bound to be caught," she said, adding "so, if this was her plan, it was a pretty bad plan.”