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Woman who hid baby remains jailed

A woman who said she secretly gave birth in her bathtub five times, killed one of the babies and hid all five bodies in a closet has been sentenced to the maximum 20 to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder.

Michele Kalina, 46, of Pennsylvania, conceived the babies through a long affair with a co-worker and hid the pregnancies from him and her husband. She told a psychiatrist she had wrapped each baby with a towel and then stored the body in a tub or container in a locked closet.

She thought four were "essentially stillborn" and denied doing anything "malicious", testified Dr Jerome Gottlieb, a defence psychiatrist.

But over the course of several visits with him, she recalled that the third baby, a boy, had moved. That death is the basis for the one count of murder.

"She (said she) might have wrapped the baby too tightly with a towel so that the baby couldn't breathe," Dr Gottlieb said.

That boy's body was then encased in cement and stored with the others - in a cooler, tub or cardboard box - in a closet. The five bodies decomposed for years until her teenage daughter found the skeletal remains last year. By then, authorities could not determine how the babies had died.

Kalina, a home-health aide, also pleaded guilty to five counts each of abuse of a corpse and concealing a child's death.

Dr Gottlieb described her as an alcoholic who was intoxicated during the births and does not fully recall what took place. She also suffers from severe depression and other mental-health issues, he said.

Public defender Holly Feeney sought leniency on grounds that Kalina had learned to deny reality as she endured severe physical and sexual abuse as a child. Dr Gottlieb suggested she put memories of the babies in a "psychological closet," much as she put their remains in a physical one.

Berks County Judge Linda K.M. Ludgate did not buy the argument. and said Kalina had left the newborns in tubs and containers "like garbage", and rebuked her for not getting help, at least after the first delivery.

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