WEST PALM BEACH — Prosecutors are no longer charging Arya Singh with premeditated murder in connection with the death of Baby June, a newborn found floating in the ocean off Boynton Inlet in 2018.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Singh, 29, in December and charged her with first-degree murder after identifying her as the baby’s mother through the use of investigative genetic genealogy. The Palm Beach County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped the charge Friday and replaced it with second-degree murder and abuse of a corpse.

The line between the two degrees of murder hinges on whether prosecutors can prove premeditation: In first-degree cases, the state must prove that the murder was planned. According to information filed in court on Friday, prosecutors believe Singh killed his newborn “without any premeditated design.”

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Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Detective Brittany Christoffel speaks to the media during a news conference at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office satellite office on Thursday, December 15, 2022, in West Palm Beach, FL.  On Thursday, PBSO announced the arrest of the 29-year-old mother of Baby June, a 2-day-old baby who was found dead in Boynton Beach Inlet in 2018.

There is no legal standard for how much time counts as premeditation. Prosecutors have said it can be a split-second decision, formed in the same amount of time it takes a batter to decide whether to throw a fastball.

While the line between the two charges is not always clear, the difference in sentencing can be huge. Prosecutors can seek the death penalty in first degree murder cases. For a second degree murder conviction, the maximum sentence is life in prison.

Newborn was found floating upside down in the ocean in 2018

Singh pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of second-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. The latest charge stems from allegations that after the baby died of suffocation, Singh put his body in the ocean around May 30, 2018. An off-duty firefighter found the newborn floating naked and face down. two days later.

The baby’s father, whom detectives have not named or charged with any crime, convinced investigators he had nothing to do with the newborn’s death, instead pointing them to Singh, a graduate of the school. Santaluces High School and security guard at Lynn University with no criminal record.

Singh told detectives she didn’t know she was pregnant until the day she gave birth, a phenomenon known as a “cryptic pregnancy,” which some researchers in Germany and the United States say is about three times more common than triplets. . Singh said she delivered the baby in a toilet and she did not know if the newborn was dead or alive.

According to a report in Mother Jones magazine, there are no infanticide laws in the US that make women who kill their own children less culpable than other murderers. Such laws exist in England, Ireland, Canada, and a handful of other countries based on the idea that childbirth alters a woman’s mind; that the resulting hormonal changes are similar to a psychological condition. The maximum charge for female infanticide in these countries is manslaughter.

A spokesman for the Palm Beach County State’s Attorney’s Office declined to comment Wednesday on the change in charges Singh faces. His defense attorney, Gregory Salnick, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hannah Phillips is a journalist covering public safety and criminal justice at The Palm Beach Post. You can reach her at [email protected].