PORTLAND, Ore. – PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stacey Quintero was a shy teenager who wore baggy clothes and didn't speak much when she became pregnant 20 years ago. She managed to hide the pregnancy — and the fact she abandoned the child in a trash can — for two decades.
But details that emerged in a court case last week show she was sexually victimized by a 25-year-old Salem man in 1989, when she was 15 years old, and that the baby was dead before she disposed of the body in May 1990.
"When she was first charged here, the theory was the baby was wrapped in a plastic bag and thrown in a garbage can," said her attorney, Jon Weiner. "That's not what happened. The baby survived for at most a few minutes."
After a conviction on charges of identity theft and forgery in 2008, Quintero was matched by DNA to the baby, whose death had remained a mystery in Salem since the discovery of the body. Prosecutors charged her with murder in January, but on Friday, she pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of one count each of negligent homicide and concealing the birth of an infant.
She faces up to 20 months in prison when she is sentenced Aug. 9 in Salem. She is being held in the Marion County Jail.
Weiner said the statute of limitations has run out to charge the father of the baby with sex crimes.
Marion County Deputy District Attorney Jodie Bureta, who prosecuted the case, said Quintero appeared for only about 15 minutes on Friday and wiped away tears several times.
"When she spoke, she was soft-spoken," Bureta said. "She seemed emotional. Where that emotion was coming from is unknown."
Quintero has said she was the only one that knew of the pregnancy, Bureta said, and never implicated any family members in the baby's death.
Quintero told police the baby, named Baby Jane Doe by police, was born alive in bathtub at her parents' home. The Oregon state medical examiner's office determined the infant was asphyxiated.
A medical expert brought in by Quintero's defense team found that the baby's lungs had aerated about 60 percent, meaning the baby had likely taken only a few breaths.
Quintero's uncle, Albert Quintero, said Monday that the revelation that Stacey was pregnant 20 years ago "just about knocked me over."
"I truly believe she's been living in hell for 20 years," Albert Quintero said. "I would like to think she's been remorseful."
"She feels horrible," Weiner said. "You've got sex abuse, she's victimized by this guy —who got away scott free, by the way — and she feels immense guilt.
"She didn't know what to do."
Albert Quintero said he hasn't had contact with Stacey's family in years. His brother is her father.
"We're not the Waltons," Albert Quintero said. "We did not stay in contact, I don't have a clue how those kids were raised."
Albert Quintero said his limited contact with Stacey came earlier in her life, during camping trips when the families were in closer contact. Today, he doesn't even have his brother's phone number.
"She never talked," Albert Quintero said. "She just, I don't know, kept to herself."
He said putting her in prison now wouldn't serve much purpose.
"It really would serve no purpose to lock her up," Albert Quintero said. "If she's going to be judged, she'll be judged by a higher power."
Before the discovery that Quintero was the mother of the infant, Bureta said Quintero's crimes has been "pretty run-of-the-mill" — opening a Visa card in someone else's name, forging a check, second-degree theft.
"It was not particularly sophisticated," Bureta said.
Bureta said the industriousness of Salem police Det. Susan Coats and the detectives who examined the case before her is the reason the baby's mother was eventually found.
"This case was constantly on a detective's desk," Bureta said. "It couldn't have been solved on DNA alone."