MEDINA _ As a former cheerleader held her hands to her face and sobbed, a jury convicted her of involuntary manslaughter Friday for the death of the baby she secretly delivered in her basement.
A judge sentenced Audrey Iacona, 17, to eight years in prison for the death of her unnamed boy, who police found wrapped in a towel and placed inside two plastic bags hours after it was born last May.
The Medina County Common Pleas Court jury could not reach a verdict on a murder charge against Miss Iacona. Seven members of the panel wanted a conviction, while five voted for acquittal.
Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman said that so long as Friday's convictions are upheld on appeal, he will likely not seek a retrial of Miss Iacona on the murder charge.
Miss Iacona also was found guilty of endangering a child and abuse of a corpse.
In a wrenching scene, Miss Iacona's mother, Angela, and other relatives wailed and shrieked when the jury announced its verdict and again minutes later as Judge James Kimbler sentenced Miss Iacona.
"Oh Audrey! So unfair," her mother cried out at one point. At another, a man got up and yelled at Kimbler that he wouldn't have sentenced his own child to prison time. The man, apparently a relative of Miss Iacona's, then stormed out of the courtroom.
Kimbler, who could have sentenced Miss Iacona to 10 years in prison on the manslaughter conviction, said outside court he was comfortable with his decision.
"There was no reason for this child to die," he said.
During her sentencing, Kimbler told Miss Iacona that "there are thousands of couples in Ohio who would have adopted this child," triggering shouts from her family.
Miss Iacona, a former student at Holy Name High School near Cleveland, will be eligible for release in five years. She was taken from the courthouse in handcuffs minutes after sentencing.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed that Miss Iacona did not tell anyone except a few friends about her pregnancy and that she gave birth to a premature, 3.8-pound boy in the basement of her home about 35 miles south of Cleveland.
During the two-week trial, prosecutors portrayed Miss Iacona as an uncaring youth who smothered her baby because she couldn't be bothered to care for it.
Defense attorneys argued that the baby was born dead. Miss Iacona _ who did not testify _ was afraid to tell her parents about her pregnancy, partly because she had undergone an abortion earlier, they said.
After delivering the baby, Miss Iacona called a friend and told her what happened. The friend became nervous and told her father, who then alerted police to the child's birth.
Defense lawyer Richard Marco said he would appeal. "She is a girl who is not a danger to society," he said.