Pittsylvania County woman sentenced for killing her newborn son

Vanessa Poteat will spend 14 years behind bars

DANVILLE, Va. – A Pittsylvania County woman will spend the next 14 years behind bars for drowning her newborn son.

Vanessa Poteat pleaded guilty in August to second-degree murder and was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison with six years suspended.

Investigators say she concealed her pregnancy in 2013, gave birth to her son in a bathtub and then drowned the child.

They also say she then kept the body in a duffel bag for nearly three years until it was found unexpectedly.

Poteat had originally planned to withdraw her guilty plea Thursday and have a trial scheduled instead.

When asked by her attorney why she wanted to withdraw her guilty plea, Poteat said that at the time she entered the plea, she felt worthless and felt that pleading guilty would be easier on her mother.

She then said that, as of Thursday morning, she no longer felt worthless and therefore wanted to have a trial rather than plead guilty and go straight to prison.

The judge recommended Poteat confer with her attorney to be sure that's what she wanted to do.

After a short recess, Poteat changed her mind and decided not to withdraw her guilty plea. 

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