A woman who snatched an infant from Harlem Hospital and spent two decades pretending the girl was her own faced a judge and her own fate Friday. NY1’s Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.
An uncuffed, uncannily calm Ann Pettway walked into a federal courtroom Friday, making eye contact only with her lawyer.
Soon after, Pettway accepted a plea agreement, admitting she kidnapped three-week old Carlina White in 1987. She spent the next 23 years posing as her mother.
When U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel asked Pettway to admit in open court just what she had done, she answered in part, "I was living in Bridgeport, Connecticut in August 1987... I went to Harlem Hospital. I took a child... I knew it was wrong."
Carlina White, now 24, was not in the courtroom, but her biological parents were.
Joy White said she remembers that night in the hospital, worrying about her feverish infant and seeing Ann Pettway there pretending to be a volunteer.
"I will never forget her face as she came up to me and said 'don't cry, your baby is going to be okay,’” said Joy. "She pat me on my shoulder and she knew what she was doing at the time and she prayed on me when I was in the hospital."
The U.S. attorney's office says Pettway took Carlina back to Bridgeport, where they lived for more than two decades. Carlina grew suspicious when Pettway couldn't produce her birth records because her birth mother had them.
"For the 23 years I've been pleading for my daughter to come back, she's been watching TV and looking and seeing that I've been pleading for my daughter. She is so cruel, she is so mean. Everything that she did to me and my family, it's just too much for me right now," said Joy.
Pettway said she's taken a variety of antidepressants over the years but stopped when she was sent back to jail until her sentencing.
Carlina White's father, Carl Tyson, said he wants her to get as many years as were stolen from him.
"She hasn't been sentenced yet. I'd like her to get 23 like I always told you," said Tyson.
The plea agreement recommends a prison sentence between 10 and 12 and a half years, but the judge is not bound by that suggestion.
Sentencing is set for May 14.