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Judge: Confession may be used against Palm Beach County mother accused of dumping baby

Posted at 4:15 PM, Jan 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-17 17:41:16-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A critical piece of evidence can be used against a mother accused of abandoning her newborn baby in a dumpster in suburban Boca Raton last year, a Palm Beach County judge says.

Judge Kirk Volker ruled that a confession made by 35-year-old Rafaelle Alessandra Carbalho Sousa will be allowed at trial.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said Sousa told investigators she delivered a baby girl on May 8, 2019, then wrapped the newborn in a plastic bag and put her in a dumpster at an apartment complex near Boca Entrada Blvd.

Sousa’s lawyers wanted her confession to PBSO detectives thrown out, arguing that Sousa was not read her Miranda rights properly before speaking with detectives.

According to Judge Volker's ruling, "the Court finds that the Defendant was not in custody at the time that she was interviewed by Det. Liriano, with the aid of a Portugese speaking deputy. Therefore, it was not necessary for her to have been advised of her Miranda rights, before the detective interviewed her."

Sousa is from Brazil and only speaks and writes in Portuguese.

According to court records, a deputy who spoke Portuguese to Sousa did not advise her "that anything she said would be used against her in a court of law" before investigators questioned her.

Prosecutors argued it wasn't necessary to give Sousa her Miranda rights at the time.

"The Defendant was not in custody at the time of the questioning and therefore Miranda was not necessary," prosecutors said in a written response.

Sousa has pleaded not guilty to attempted felony murder and child abuse.