| News

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Woman pleads guilty to trying to smother son

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

Monday, July 15, 2013, 1:21 p.m.

A West Virginia mother accused of trying to smother her infant son at Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville pleaded guilty on Monday, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office said.

Rachel Nelson, 23, of Costa, W.Va., was scheduled for trial before Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani. She pleaded guilty to three counts, including aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person, said Mike Manko, district attorney's spokesman.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 5. Nelson faces up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors alleged that Nelson tried twice in October to suffocate her then 4-month-old son while he was a patient at UPMC Children's Hospital. Nelson first told police she “blacked out” during the incidents, but later admitted she held the boy against her chest, squeezing tighter when he struggled to breathe, according to court documents.

Doctors in West Virginia transferred the boy to Children's Hospital because the child's parents took him six times to a hospital in Charleston for treatment, according to police.

Nelson went to Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland for an evaluation before police arrested her.

Investigators believe Nelson tried to suffocate her son as many as 15 times. Manko said a West Virginia grand jury is investigating the matter.

Justin Marlowe, an assistant prosecutor in Boone County, W.Va., said prosecutors in West Virginia were waiting for the outcome in Allegheny County before proceeding.

He would not comment on possible charges against Nelson.

The boy lives with his father in West Virginia, Manko said.

The boy's father, who wasn't identified, was not charged. He could not be reached for comment.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Steelers QB Roethlisberger not targeting Oct. 25 return
  2. $11M gift from Hillman to help CMU attract faculty, support students
  3. Keuchel, Astros beat Yankees
  4. Plum school board asks why tip line was removed from student handbook
  5. Steelers notebook: Tomlin not worried about Jones’ lack of sacks
  6. New Florence assistant fire chief charged with having sex with juvenile
  7. Audit: Work of adviser in Pa. Department of Education hard to pin down
  8. Pitt women’s soccer makes history; West Virginia doesn’t want to repeat it
  9. Rossi: Time for Pirates to take next step
  10. IMF predicts global economic growth will shrink
  11. Ligonier council approves design changes to Diamond