05/08/05 — Woman found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in death of infant

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Woman found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in death of infant

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on May 8, 2005 2:07 AM

Two people have pleaded guilty in Wayne County Superior Court to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the unrelated deaths of an infant in Mount Olive and a man in Goldsboro.

A teen-ager from Guatemala had been charged with the murder of her newborn son in Mount Olive. Gloria Vasquez, 19, of Cleveland Drive had told Mount Olive police that the baby was born dead Oct. 5, 2004.

The baby was found by a cleaning crew in a mobile home on Granger Place, where Ms. Vasquez used to live. One crew member removed a blanket from a bedroom, exposing the baby, police detectives said. Ms. Vasquez was arrested and charged with concealing a childbirth.

At the time, Mount Olive Police Chief Emmett Ballree speculated that Ms. Vasquez did not know of the "safe-surrender" program. Under the new program, any woman can leave a baby with a hospital, law enforcement or rescue personnel and leave without having to answer questions.

Ballree also said the woman was scared and had no family in Wayne County.

When the medical examiner had determined that the baby had breathed on his own, the charge was upgraded to first-degree murder. Later the Wayne County grand jury indicted Ms. Vasquez on a charge of second-degree murder.

After she was arrested, Ms. Vasquez could not post a $50,000 secured bond and was held in the Wayne County Jail for 206 days until her sentencing hearing last week.

She was sentenced by Judge Michael R. Morgan to 14 to 17 months in prison. But he suspended the term on condition that she complete 24 months of supervised probation and pay $910 to her court-appointed lawyer and court costs. The judge waived jail and supervisory fees.

In the other case, a 29-year-old man from Kinston was sentenced to almost two years in prison after pleading guilty to last year's stabbing death of a Goldsboro man.

Michael Anthony Becton rejected probation and elected to serve a 19-to-23-month term imposed by Judge Morgan.

The victim, Rudolph Guion Jr., 31, of East Ash Street, was stabbed before dawn Oct. 9. Becton surrendered to Goldsboro police about five hours later and was charged with voluntary manslaughter.

Becton could not post a $20,000 bond and was jailed until last week's sentencing hearing.

Becton pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter. Morgan suspended the sentence on condition that Becton complete 36 months of supervised probation, including six months of intensive probation, and pay his court-appointed lawyer $227.50, a $500 fine and $1,296 in court costs. The defendant rejected the probationary terms.

The case started at 1:10 a.m. when police Officer Jeremy Piner responded to a call about a possible stabbing at 1713 E. Holly St. He found the victim and radioed for assistance. Emergency medical personnel determined that the Guion had died.

Police investigators developed Becton as a suspect after interviewing witnesses and conducting a crime-scene investigation. Becton turned himself in at 6:15 a.m.