The parents of a 6-month-old boy whose body was stuffed in a suitcase, tossed in a trash bin at a Los Angeles-area shopping center and is believed to have wound up in a Corona landfill pleaded no contest Thursday to felony child abuse resulting in death.
Kiana Williams, 33, and Adam Manson, 35, were both immediately sentenced to six years in prison for the death of their son, Jacsun Manson.
The couple faced an additional four years in prison, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark S. Arnold stayed that portion of the sentence, saying they will not have to serve the additional time as long as they adhere to the conditions of their parole once they are released from prison.
Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami noted during the hearing that the couple had no prior felony record and were under the influence of drugs. Hatami said they “made numerous bad choices and committed numerous acts of negligence. As a result, the baby died.”
The infant’s body has never been found.
During a preliminary hearing earlier this year, Culver City Police Department Detective Tobias Raya testified that Williams and Manson — who didn’t disclose their son’s whereabouts when questioned by various authorities — acknowledged in police interviews in February that they had left a suitcase containing the boy’s body in a trash bin at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw mall.
They said they did so after waking up to find their son unresponsive inside a South Los Angeles motel room and unsuccessfully trying to revive him, according to Raya.
Williams, who described herself to police as a licensed vocational nurse, initially said the infant had died in a PT Cruiser, Raya told the judge. But the baby’s mother subsequently told police that it had happened in the motel room after police gave her a handwritten letter from Manson imploring her to “tell them the truth!” according to the detective.
In the letter, the boy’s father wrote that the couple’s baby deserves to be found “so they can find out why” and so they can move on.
“We are good people who made a bad choice,” he wrote in the letter to Williams, in which he wrote that he loves her and noted that he wished they had called 911 as she had suggested.
Williams acknowledged that she had put her son’s body in a suitcase and considered two burial sites before she and Manson drove to the shopping center to leave the body in the trash bin, according to the detective. She said Manson threw the suitcase into the tall bin after she unsuccessfully tried to dispose of it, the detective said.
She told police that she had smoked marijuana but stopped using all other drugs while she was pregnant with her son, and used methamphetamine shortly before and after his death, according to the detective. She also acknowledged having fled earlier with the boy because she feared that the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services would take him away, the detective testified.
In a jailhouse interview in February, Manson also acknowledged using methamphetamine and said he became really upset after the two each unsuccessfully tried to perform CPR on their baby, Raya testified.
“He did not see Kiana packing Jacsun in the suitcase,” the detective said, recounting an interview in which Manson cried.
During a search in February, a dog trained to find human remains went to the back of the PT Cruiser and a bed in the motel room, Raya said.
A woman who works at a building near where the couple was arrested told authorities that she had seen them with a “live, fat, happy baby Jacsun” about Jan. 1.
“She said the baby was cute. He was laughing. She couldn’t take her eyes off him,” the detective said.
Williams and Manson were arrested Jan. 3 by Los Angeles police after being found in a stolen U-Haul vehicle. Los Angeles police Officer Luke Coyle — who identified the two in court — testified that he didn’t see a baby in the vehicle with them and that neither of the two mentioned that they had a baby. He said Manson identified himself with a different last name.
Another LAPD officer, Carlos Aguirre, testified that he saw Manson on Feb. 2 near a U-Haul vehicle that had been reported stolen. The officer — who said there is video of the incident from his body-worn camera — told the judge that he believed Manson may have said he couldn’t go to jail that night because he needed to see his baby, but didn’t list it in his police report because he didn’t know the relevance of the baby at that time.