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Sosefina Amoa placed under suicide watch in D.C. jail

The 26-year-old Samoan woman who was studying to become a Catholic nun, but who police say smothered her newborn baby, was ordered to remain jailed Friday while under suicide watch.Prosecutors charged Sosefina Amoa with first-degree felony murder and cruelty to children in the Oct. 10 death of her newborn son. Prosecutors say Amoa hid her pregnancy from the nuns at the Little Sisters of the Poor convent in the 4200 block of Harewood Road NE, gave birth to her son and then, fearing that the baby would start crying and alert the nuns, smothered the baby with a black wool garment.During Amoa’s first court appearance Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Wright argued that she should be retained in jail, calling Amoa a “danger to the community.”“There is obviously something seriously wrong,” Wright said. “She was here to become a nun. But anyone willing to kill her own child is a danger to others.” Wright requested that Amoa undergo a psychiatric screening.Amoa’s attorney, Judith Pipe of the District’s Public Defender Service, argued that the incident was “out of character” for her client and told the judge that Amoa was not in her right mind and was not responsible for her actions.Pipe argued that Amoa should be released from jail. She said that the although the nuns at the convent said she could not return to the seven-acre facility across the street from Catholic University, they had made arrangements for her to go to another Catholic facility.Magistrate Judge William C. Nooter rejected a psychiatric screening, but ordered Amoa to remain in jail until her next hearing Wednesday. But Nooter did order that while in jail, Amoa be under suicide watch.