Mia Sardella, the 20-year-old Drexel Hill woman charged with killing her newborn son and placing his body in her car trunk, pleaded nolo contendere yesterday to involuntary manslaughter, abuse of corpse, and concealing the death of a child.
She faces up to 10 years in prison.
Sardella stood between her two attorneys before Judge Patricia Jenkins during the plea agreement. At times, she wiped her eyes with tissue. Her mother and grandparents were seated in the courtroom.
By changing her not-guilty plea to nolo contendere, Sardella neither admits nor disputes the charges against her. The court records the plea as a conviction.
A gag order remains in the case. A sentencing date is scheduled for Jan. 22, two years to the day that the infant was found. The baby was born on New Year's Day, 2007.
Sardella's mother found the baby inside a pink duffel bag in the trunk of Sardella's Volkswagen Beetle, and called the young woman's grandfather, who contacted an attorney. Sardella has been under house arrest since her arrest. She was charged with third-degree murder in the case.
Sardella is a granddaughter of Albert E. Piscopo, chief executive of the Glenmede Trust Co., an investment firm that manages the assets of the Pew Charitable Trusts and other high-end charities.
Sardella was home on break from her freshman year at Drexel University and alone in her room when she gave birth. Her grandfather testified at a preliminary hearing that she did not recall giving birth but recalled wrapping the dead infant in a blanket. Investigators could not find anyone who knew that Sardella had been pregnant.
Originally, Sardella faced stiffer charges of first-degree murder. Those were withdrawn by the District Attorney's Office after a review of forensic evidence and consultation with medical experts found that the evidence was insufficient to support the more serious charges.