HAMMOND | A then 20-year-old woman boarded a Caribbean cruise ship on Oct. 8, 2011, to celebrate her friend’s birthday.
Within two days of the cruise, Alicia Keir said she gave birth by herself in her stateroom. She told U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano Wednesday that she stayed with the newborn for a minute.
“She did not move,” Keir said. “She did not make a sound.”
As the DeMotte woman pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, she acknowledged during Wednesday’s hearing that the child was born alive.
Keir’s voice trembled as she told Lozano she delivered a girl. She wrapped the full-term newborn in a towel and hid her under a bed, according to court records.
“I should have gotten help,” Keir said.
The next day, a cleaning crew found the girl dead after the ship arrived at the port of St. Maarten. Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Stewart said a doctor there determined the infant died from exposure and lack of care.
According to court records, the child was born without any diseases or defects.
Keir said she knew she was pregnant, but she did not tell her friend or her friend’s family who were with her on the cruise. She flew home from St. Maarten after the infant was discovered.
Though the death happened on the high seas, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release last month they have jurisdiction in the case because of where Keir lived.
Lozano delayed the change of plea hearing for hours, because he had questions about the information filed in the case by the U.S. attorney’s office, he said. Lozano said he thought he could move forward with the proceedings after reviewing a past case.
Keir, who is now 24, will be sentenced at 1 p.m. Aug. 20. As part of the plea agreement, the state and defense can argue for what each believes is an appropriate sentence.
She could face up to eight years in prison and a fine up to $250,000, according to court records.
Photo of the Cruiseship: Keir boarded the Carnival Dream ship in 2011, knowing that she was pregnant, but her friends did not. After giving birth to the child and then abandoning it, a cleaner discovered the dead baby the next day. JOHN HALLEY/REUTERS