Officials say Harriette M. Hoyt, of Sayre, was charged with second degree attempted murder after an investigation. Maggie Gilroy / Staff video
The criminal case against a17-year-old mother accused of abandoning her infant daughter in a plastic bag behind an Elmira house — where she was discovered alive more than three days later — is expected to go before a Chemung County grand jury.
Harriette M. Hoyt, of Sayre, is charged with attempted second-degree murder, a felony that carries a possible penalty of up to 25 years in prison if she’s found guilty. On Friday, she waived her right to a preliminary hearing in City of Elmira Court.
The next step will be for prosecutors to present her case to a grand jury for an indictment and further action in Chemung County Court. Hoyt remains in the Chemung County jail.
Hoyt is accused of putting her 8-month-old daughter in a white plastic bag Aug. 5 and abandoning her near bushes in the back yard of a residence in the 600 block of Walnut Street.
Neighbors discovered the girl Tuesday, more than 72 hours after police say she was abandoned. She remained hospitalized in stable condition and is in the custody of Child Protective Services, police said Thursday.
Assistant District Attorney Mary Theresa Northrup told the court Friday the child is “doing remarkably well.”
Hoyt and her attorney, John Brennan of the Chemung County Public Advocate’s Office, appeared before Elmira City Court Judge Ottavio Campanella on Friday for an administrative hearing.
Hoyt agreed to waive a preliminary hearing, originally set for Monday, in exchange for a reduction in bail and open file discovery, which requires the District Attorney’s Office to turn all evidence over to the defense, Brennan said.
Campanella agreed to the terms and reduced Hoyt’s bail from $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond to $125,000 cash or $250,000 bond.
Hoyt also waived extradition, meaning if she makes bail and leaves New York and doesn’t return to show up in court, she doesn’t have the right to an extradition hearing if she is arrested in any other state.
Northrup told the court Tuesday her office agreed to the bail reduction and other terms because the baby is doing so well.
‘She was so perfect’
On Thursday, Hoyt’s cousin, Sabrina Hoyt, said her family was shocked to learn the news about the infant.
“It’s really hard for all of us to grasp,” said Sabrina, choking back tears during a telephone interview. “Because a baby is a true blessing from God.”
Sabrina Hoyt, 20, of Columbus, Georgia, said Harriette Hoyt and her daughter had resided with Harriette’s parents and sister. She said she and Harriette Hoyt frequently exchanged messages and that she said she’d left the baby with the child’s father “because she wanted some time to herself.”
As of Thursday, none of the infant’s family members had been granted permission to visit her in the hospital, Sabrina Hoyt said.
She recalled meeting the blue-eyed child for the first time earlier this year and the instant bond between the infant and her own young son, who is a month apart in age.
“She was so perfect,” Sabrina Hoyt said. “She was a little chunky thing. The sweetest smile, a cute little laugh.”
The family, she said, is still reeling from the child’s discovery and the allegations against the infant’s mother.
“That child did nothing to deserve that,” Sabrina said. “The only thing that baby’s ever wanted in her life is love.”
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