NEW YORK (AP) – Savarin DeJesus spent her Friday night downing gin and smoking cigarettes before returning to the homeless shelter where she and her 4-month old baby girl were staying.

The 18-year-old started vomiting into a bucket next to her bed filled with cleaning solution and water, then passed out with the baby at her side, officials said.

When she came to, she found the baby’s head inside the bucket that contained about six inches of liquid, skin already cold. The baby was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

DeJesus was charged with criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a child.

“I loved my baby. I want you to know that,” a weeping and trembling DeJesus told the judge during a brief hearing Friday.

The criminal complaint filed against DeJesus revealed more details about the case, and what DeJesus was doing in the hours leading up to Niah’s death.

DeJesus told an NYPD detective that she had a date on Sept. 15 and left the infant late that night in the care of a person living at the East Harlem homeless shelter.

During the course of the evening, DeJesus drank a 20-ounce soda bottle that was filled half with soda and half with gin, according to the complaint.

She returned to the shelter at nearly 4 a.m. stinking of booze and retrieved her baby. A few minutes later, after chatting with some residents of the shelter and smoking cigarettes, she took Niah back to her room and changed her clothing and diaper.

That is when she told police she felt sick and vomited into the bucket next to the bed. She then passed out, clutching Niah’s legs.

When she awoke between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., DeJesus found the baby’s head inside the bucket. The cause of death was either asphyxiation or drowning, according to the medical examiner’s office. The complaint said the baby smelled strongly of alcohol.

On Friday, DeJesus’ lawyer told the judge that Niah’s death was unintentional.

“She loved her baby and would never hurt her,” Kenneth Gilbert said.

Gilbert said DeJesus had no criminal record and was taking antidepressants in the wake of Niah’s death.

He said his client, from Staten Island, was staying at the shelter to be closer to the baby’s father, who lived in the area.

Catholic Charities operates the shelter, a 17-room space for pregnant woman and mothers, under a contract with the city’s Department of Homeless Services. The Sisters of Charity of New York runs the shelter on a daily basis.

The DHS has posted warnings at the shelter of the dangers of sleeping in bed with children. Cribs are distributed to mothers with children under the age of 2, the DHS said. It’s not clear if DeJesus had a crib in her room.

“This is a true tragedy and DHS is cooperating fully with the NYPD’s investigation into this incident,” DHS spokeswoman Angela Allen said in a prepared statement.


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