A prison inmate previously serving life for killing her newborn baby in 1993 was re-sentenced Thursday in Lancaster County Court.
Melisa Ann McManus, now 41, was re-sentenced to 25 years to life on her first-degree murder conviction for the death of her infant son, found in trash bags May 6, 1993, on the banks of Susquehanna River.
McManus, age 16 when she killed the baby, was convicted at a non-jury trial a year later and sentenced to the mandatory life term.
McManus was re-sentenced due to a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that deemed life sentences against juveniles “unconstitutional.”
McManus is the seventh of 12 inmates – previously serving life for killings they committed as juveniles in Lancaster County – to be re-sentenced.
Unlike the previous six re-sentencings, McManus’ case involved a plea agreement on the 25 years-to-life sentence.
Having already served over 24 years, McManus would be eligible for a parole hearing in June 2018.
McManus, appearing via video conference from a state prison in Muncy, told Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker “not a day goes by that I don’t think about my son.”
“I don’t know how to forgive myself. I really didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I just didn’t understand it.”
McManus has no family she is in contact with, and intends to live at a halfway house in Williamsport upon release, her defense lawyer said.
Since being incarcerated, McManus has earned her GED and several other certificates, for upholstery, plumbing, tutoring and other fields.
While accepting the plea terms, President Judge Reinaker told McManus: “Hopefully you will realize you are getting a second chance here.”
Assistant District Attorney Susan Moyer represented the Commonwealth.
After the dead baby was found, an informant reported to police that McManus had been pregnant during March 1993, and that she had given birth, but that no one had ever seen the baby.
Pennsylvania State Police filed charges.
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