Cassidy Goodson, Lakeland
teen who strangled her newborn, gets 18 months in plea deal
By Eric Glasser - Wtsp.com
December 19, 2012
Florida -- Eighteen months for murdering her infant son.
sentence Wednesday for the Lakeland teenager who hid her pregnancy
choked her newborn son to death in September. If she
plays her cards right, Cassidy Goodson could be out in time to
graduate from High school.
It's a rare
case where everyone seemed to be in agreement.
The facts of
the case are horrible: a newborn's life taken violently. But had
Cassidy been convicted of murder and sent to prison, prosecutors,
her defense attorney and ultimately the judge all agreed it would
simply have been a second life lost.
They all say
that in this case, Cassidy, now 15, deserved a second chance.
into labor on September 19 in a bathroom at her home,
took a pair of scissors to "pry the baby out," and
delivered the child alive and into the toilet.
Investigators say Cassidy lifted the moving infant from the
toilet, felt for a pulse, found one, then placed her hands around
the infant's neck and squeezed until he wasn't moving or breathing
any longer. She took the infant's pulse again and found none.
add that Cassidy cleaned up the bathroom, bathed herself and the
dead infant before placing him in a shoebox along with soiled
towels and clothing.
mother did take her to Lakeland Regional Medical Center that day
after seeing a mess in the bathroom, and the teen claimed she
found the baby's body in a shoebox three days later. The
baby was a full term, 9.5 pound boy. Cassidy weighs 100 lbs.
she hid the pregnancy from her parents, but family members had
told her mother they thought the teen may be pregnant.
arrested for first degree murder, but pleaded guilty to a lesser
charge of manslaughter.
teenager's family looking on, Judge Donald Jacobsen said he was
satisfied that Cassidy -- a student with no criminal past -- was
unlikely to pose a threat to anyone else.
He said she
was "immature" and on Wednesday sentenced Cassidy to at least 18
months in a maximum security facility for juveniles. It'll most
likely be the Hillsborough Girls Academy.
cared about a young girl who had never been in any trouble before
in her life and has a tremendous amount of potential... and no one
wanted to throw that potential away," said Howardene Garrett,
Cassidy's defense lawyer.
Sheriff Grady Judd -- whose department first investigated the case
and recorded Cassidy's chilling re-enactment and confession --
agreed with the decision to reach a plea deal, but withheld
comment on the length of the sentence.
murderer is 14, and so there has to be a penalty to pay. There has
to be. But the challenge is to make sure that she's not back in
the criminal justice system for something else, because there
won't be another chance," said Sheriff Judd.
completes her program without incident, she'll appear before the
judge again in 18 months. At that time, she could be placed on
probation and set free.
she violates the terms of her release, she could be sentenced to
up to 15 years in prison as an adult.
outside the courtroom, Cassidy's grandfather, Richard Goodson said
he wanted to thank the community for its prayers.
good girl," he said. "She just made a terrible mistake."
Cassidy Goodson, 14-Year-Old
Mom, Describes Killing Her Newborn In Video Reenactment
November 18, 2012
A police interrogation video shows a high
school freshman calmly demonstrating how she strangled her newborn
son to death in September, WFTS reported.
Cassidy Goodson, 14, is charged with
first-degree murder as an adult for allegedly killing the baby
moments after she secretly gave birth in her parents' bathroom.
Florida prosecutors released a batch of
evidence on Thursday, including the footage of Goodson using a
Santa Claus doll to show how she squeezed the life out of her son
before hiding him in a shoebox, ABC News reported.
"Its eyes weren’t open but I felt to see if it
was breathing or not, and (it was breathing) so I put my hands
around its throat to make it stop breathing," Goodson told
"I wanted it to stop breathing so I wouldn't
get in trouble," she said, according to the Ledger.
It took about one minute for her child's breath
to cease, Goodson said.
In addition to the premeditated murder charge,
the Polk County Sheriff's office lists one count of aggravated
child abuse. If convicted, Goodson could spend life in prison.
Her public defender declined to comment about
the evidence to the Ledger.
In the video recorded in her mobile home in
Bartow, Goodson explained that she feared disappointing her
parents, so she concealed her pregnancy by wearing baggy clothing.
She also showed her mother fake pregnancy tests with negative
results to fool her.
Police said Goodson used scissors during labor
to pry out the baby. Three days after Goodson gave birth, her
mother called police to report that she'd found a dead newborn in
a shoebox in her daughter's bedroom. A strange odor led her mother
Detectives questioned Teresa Goodson about how
she didn't know her daughter was expecting a child.
Upon questioning from detectives, Teresa
Goodson said she thought her daughter was "just getting fat and
gaining weight,"according to the Ledger. "Honestly, if I would
have known, this would have never happened."
Teen Suspected of Killing Newborn Indicted
Newborn son was found dead, body hidden in
By Jason Geary - TheLedger.com
October 4, 2013
Fourteen-year-old Cassidy Goodson, who
authorities say secretly gave birth to a son and then strangled
the newborn, will be prosecuted as an adult.
A grand jury indicted the Lakeland girl on Thursday on charges of
first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.
Goodson was arrested last week after deputies say she gave birth
on Sept. 19 to a 9.5-pound boy inside a bathroom then strangled
The indictment does not identify the baby by any name but simply
uses the words "Baby Goodson" to describe him.
If Cassidy Goodson had remained charged in the juvenile system,
the maximum length of supervision she could be monitored would be
until her 22nd birthday.
In Florida's adult criminal justice system, the maximum penalty
for first-degree murder is usually a mandatory life sentence or
the death penalty.
Goodson's young age prevents her from facing the death penalty.
In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that
it was unconstitutional for juveniles convicted of murder to
receive mandatory life imprisonment without parole. The decision
specifically addressed "mandatory" life sentences for juveniles
but doesn't appear to rule out such punishment on a case-by-case
In an interview, State Attorney Jerry Hill said he didn't know
what an appropriate sentence should be in the case.
"Legally speaking, it's possible that it's a life case," he said.
"Practically speaking and what is the just thing to do, that will
be determined as we learn more about it."
Hill said the decision to charge the girl as an adult wasn't taken
"The decision was fact driven," he said. "I think the facts demand
first-degree murder charges."
When asked if prosecuting the girl as an adult was harsh or
heavy-handed, Hill said the case hasn't been resolved yet, and
it's too early to know how it will end.
"I don't want to suggest that I know the outcome of that," Hill
said. "But first-degree murder is the appropriate charge. We will
have a great deal of latitude as we move forward and more facts
come to light."
Goodson's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Howardene Garrett, did
not want to comment for this article.
Many questions remain in the case.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has previously said the
investigation continues, but it appears the baby's father is a
juvenile, meaning someone younger than 18.
An affidavit of the Polk County Sheriff's Office provides the
The girl told investigators that she went into the bathroom and
used a pair of scissors to pry the baby out.
"Cassidy stated she felt for a pulse, which was present, and
observed the child move," the affidavit states. "Cassidy advised
she placed her hands around the neck of the child and choked it
for approximately one minute, to stop the child from breathing."
The girl cleaned herself and the baby's body before hiding the
The girl's mother, Teresa Goodson, later saw blood around the
bathroom toilet and took Cassidy to the hospital. The girl told
her mother that she had a miscarriage and flushed the fetus down
the toilet without looking.
The miscarriage was reported to investigators
for the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of
Children & Families.
Three days later, Teresa Goodson reported finding the baby after
going into her daughter's bedroom to collect dirty laundry. She
told investigators that she noticed a foul odor coming from a
storage stool. Inside, she discovered a plastic bag with the baby
stuffed underneath some wet clothing.
An autopsy found that the child was a full-term infant and was
alive and breathing prior to death.
Polk County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Nelson noted there were
severe head injuries consistent with the child being struck
repeatedly with scissors as well as signs of strangulation.
Mom: Teen Didn't Know of
By Rick Rousos - TheLedger.com
October 3, 2012
The mother of a 14-year-old girl charged with
killing her newborn son said Wednesday neither she nor her
daughter knew the girl was pregnant.
"I know she had a period every month and she did not gain a lot of
weight," Teresa Goodson said.
Donna Goodson, the girl's paternal grandmother, said Cassidy
Goodson told her after the baby's death that, "If I knew I was
pregnant, it would have been different."
The two defended Cassidy Goodson at their North Lakeland home
where the teen's bedroom has not been touched since she was
arrested last week.
A change of clothes lay on top of the 14-year-old's dresser next
to bottles of the acne treatment Proactiv. Family photos, softball
trophies and a bottle of hair glitter line her small room.
It's the same place where the Polk County Sheriff's Office said
the teen left her dead son in a shoe box covered by a pile of
Teresa Goodson, 42, found the dead infant on Sept. 22 and called
The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Cassidy Goodson knew she was
pregnant and concealed it by wearing baggy clothing.
According to the arrest affidavit, she delivered her child by
herself Sept. 19 in the bathroom of the mobile home where she
lives with her family. While her son was still connected to the
umbilical cord, deputies say Cassidy Goodson choked the infant to
According to her arrest affidavit, Goodson is 5 feet, 3 inches
tall and weighs 100 pounds. Her mother said she weighs more than
100 pounds but wasn't sure exactly how much she weighs.
Cassidy Goodson was charged last week with murder and aggravated
child abuse. Prosecutors have not decided whether she will be
charged as an adult.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Wednesday his detectives are
still investigating, but it appears the baby's father is a
juvenile, meaning someone younger than 18.
Judd said investigators continue trying to determine whether there
is any criminal culpability involving Cassidy Goodson's family or
the baby's father.
"Everything we have so far leads us to believe it was another
child" who is the father of the baby, Judd said. He said
investigators have answered some questions, but may never get
definitive answers to other questions.
Teresa Goodson said that her daughter has never been in any
serious trouble. She said the 14-year-old spent the summer playing
softball for a local league; she regularly prepared dinner for the
family; and she attended church.
"She was a great child," Teresa Goodson said.
In August, Cassidy Goodson started her freshman year at Kathleen
"Something had to have snapped," Donna Goodson, 69, said.
Teresa Goodson said she had talked to her daughter about sex, but
didn't think her daughter was sexually active.
She said she knew her daughter menstruated because "I washed out
her clothes every week."
She said she had no idea why her daughter reacted the way she did
when she delivered the child.
"She's a 14-year-old kid and she has a child's mind," she said.
Cassidy Goodson told detectives she concealed the pregnancy and
killed her son because she was afraid her relationship with her
parents would change, according to an arrest affidavit.
The girl's aunts told deputies that they had expressed concerns
about Cassidy Goodson possibly being pregnant, deputies said.
Teresa Goodson said one of her sisters approached her and told her
that there were rumors Cassidy Goodson was pregnant.
Cassidy Goodson took two pregnancy tests, but "the tests gave no
response," according to the arrest affidavit. Teresa Goodson
wouldn't specify when the tests were taken. She said she told her
daughter to take tests to quash the pregnancy rumors.
Teresa Goodson said she left Cassidy Goodson in the bathroom by
herself to do the testing "because I trusted my daughter."
A spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner's Office said the baby's
body is still at the Winter Haven facility while the family makes
arrangements for a funeral.
On Wednesday afternoon, Teresa Goodson and Donna Goodson were
getting ready to visit Cassidy Goodson. Teresa Goodson said they
try to stay positive and avoid talking about the tragedy.