Mother accused of abandoning newborn found alive in woods denied bond in 'Baby India' case
(FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga.) — A woman accused of putting her newborn in a plastic bag and abandoning her in the Georgia woods nearly four years ago has been denied bond after prosecutors argued she could intimidate potential witnesses in the “Baby India” case.
Karima Jiwani, 40, made her first court appearance Saturday morning after being arrested this week, appearing virtually from the Forsyth County Jail.
The baby girl, known as India, was found alive in good condition in a wooded area in Forsyth County on the night of June 6, 2019, authorities said. A local family told “Good Morning America” at the time they had heard crying and called 911 after finding the newborn in a plastic bag.
Jiwani faces charges including criminal attempt to commit murder, cruelty to children in the first degree, aggravated assault and reckless abandonment. She faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
Penny Penn, district attorney for the Bell-Forsyth Judicial Circuit, told the court that prosecutors have DNA evidence proving that Jiwani is the biological mother of the child, as well as corroborative evidence including the defendant’s own interview statements in the case.
Penn said evidence will show the baby was “dumped’ on the side of the road approximately 12 to 30 hours after India was born and that there was “no indication that this child was left for anyone else to find.”
“By the defendant’s own statement during the interview, this was a child that she tried to kill,” Penn said. “That was certainly her intent.”
Penn asked that Jiwani be held without bond, saying that the defendant’s husband and children are potential witnesses in the case and that the prosecution is “concerned about the risk of intimidation” if she were to return home.
Defense attorney E. Jay Abt said Jiwani is a stay-at-home mother with three minor children and noted she has no criminal history while arguing for $100,000 bond along with a house arrest and GPS ankle monitor.
“This woman suffered from postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis,” Abt told the court. “There are extensive medical records to demonstrate that and ultimately expert testimony to prove that.”
Penn countered that postpartum depression was unlikely to be a factor and that “there is no evidence to suggest that the defendant was suffering from any kind of psychosis.”
Chief Magistrate Keisha Martin Chambless said she did have concerns about the risk of Jiwami fleeing and intimidating witnesses while denying bond at this time.
When the judge asked Jiwani if she had any questions, her defense attorney advised her not to say anything.
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for June 13.
Jiwani, of Forsyth County, was arrested on Thursday following a nearly four-year investigation that saw the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office release body camera footage of the baby’s recovery as they attempted to identify her.
Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman told reporters in a press briefing announcing the arrest on Friday that investigators were able to identify the child’s father through “advanced DNA investigative practice” about 10 months ago. Further DNA evidence confirmed Jiwani to be the child’s biological mother, according to Freeman.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that the child’s father knew of the pregnancy or abandonment, the sheriff said.
Based on interviews with family and medical professionals, Jiwani reportedly had a “history of hidden and concealed pregnancies and surprise births,” and while pregnant with India “went to extremes to conceal this pregnancy,” Freeman said. Investigators have not found any prior criminal acts regarding Jiwani, he said.
Freeman said he would not discuss India besides saying she’s “happy and healthy.”
ABC News’ Jianna Cousin contributed to this report.
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