A woman who admitted to killing her baby is headed to prison. A Mesa County judge has sentenced Morgan Hite to 20 years in prison and five years mandatory parole and for the first time we're hearing the 23–year–old's tearful apologies.
In January, Hite, who was living in Alaska before her arrest, pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death.
It was a very intense and emotional day in court Thursday as a judge listened to statements from prosecutors, Hite's defense attorney, her parents and her sobbing apologies.
And although her parents say they've forgiven Morgan and have some closure, they say they're still missing the grandson they almost had.
"To live with the fact that my innocent child was lost because of me and my choices is something I will have to live with everyday for the rest of my life. It's an unexplainable pain and worse than any sentence I'll receive," Hite told a judge at her sentencing on Thursday.
Cuffed and crying, Morgan Hite apologized and took responsibility for killing her newborn baby.
"More than anyone in this courtroom, I wonder why and how I let things go this far. I'm ashamed, embarrassed and so disappointed in myself," said Morgan Hite.
In court with tears in his eyes, her father asked the judge to have mercy.
"She is not the person that would do this," Chris Hite told a judge on Thursday.
Hite's public defender said the 23-year-old has owned up to her actions and asked for the minimum jail time under the plea agreement.
"She has forgiven herself. We're asking the community to forgive her as well," Public Defender John Burkey told a judge on Thursday.
Forgive her for her crime--giving birth to a baby boy, wrapping it in a plastic bag then putting it in a duffle bag and leaving it to die in the closet.
It was two months before Hite's parents found the tiny body, something the judge called a horrible and selfish act.
"You viewed this baby as nothing more than baggage in your life that you could store away in a room," Mesa County Judge Thomas Deister told Hite.
He said although her family may have forgiven her, but there are still consequences.
"Your dad says your not the person who would do this--yes you are. We are what we do," said Deister.
And after those words, he read her sentence.
"I hereby sentence you to 20 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections."
Hite's parents say the sentencing will bring them some closure.
"We have come to a sense of, as much as we can, a sense of peace," Morgan's step mother Stacy Hite told 11 News outside of the courtroom.
But Stacy and Chris Hite say they can never rest easy knowing their daughter will be spending the next 20 years in jail, and never rest thinking about baby Gabriel.
Morgan Hite does have another child. Stacy and Chris Hite say the four–year–old girl will stay in Alaska with the girl's father.
The Hite family says once their emotions settle, they plan to start a foundation in baby Gabriel's name to help women who are pregnant with counseling services and to spread information about the safe haven law.
To watch raw video of the complete sentencing hearing, click on one of the story links below.