Hearing continued for teen accused of taking baby

Tuesday’s preliminary hearing for a teen accused of kidnapping a newborn from a Riverdale hospital has been reset to April 24.

Naquelle Sonieq Ballard, 19, of Morrow is being held without bond in the Clayton County Jail. She was arrested Jan. 4 on kidnapping and false imprisonment charges.

This is the second reset preliminary hearing for Ballard. She is being represented by the Clayton County Public Defenders Office.

Criminal warrants issued from Clayton County Magistrate Court allege that Ballard began planning a kidnapping in September when she miscarried. Police say Ballard didn’t tell her boyfriend about the loss and pretended to be pregnant. Ballard reportedly told her boyfriend a few days before the alleged kidnapping that she’d delivered their child.

“She had to kidnap a child now,” read the warrants.

Ballard planned to kidnap a newborn and take the child to her boyfriend’s house where they would raise the baby as their own, said police. In planning for the kidnapping, Ballard bought scrubs from Wal-Mart to pretend to be a hospital worker, allege the warrants.

On the morning of the alleged kidnapping, Ballard drove a black Ford Expedition to Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, the county’s only hospital. Wearing blue nursing scrubs, Ballard entered the hospital about 8:30 a.m., she told police, and pretended to be an employee.

About 9:20 a.m., Ballard went into Room 2134 and asked the mother if she was ready for the baby to return to the nursery. The mother, 19, said she thought Ballard was an employee and told her she was finished breast-feeding her 2-day-old daughter.

After pushing the hospital bassinet out of the room, Ballard picked up the baby and put her inside a large brown pocketbook, said police. As Ballard walked toward the exit of the Women’s Life Center, the baby’s armband triggered the hospital’s alarm. The alarm caught the attention of maintenance and nursery personnel. The workers began to chase her, according to the warrants. Ballard struggled with a maintenance man and she lost her purse to him, said police.

Ballard fled the building, got into her Expedition and drove away. The worker picked up the purse and discovered a baby inside. Police said the baby was uninjured and never left the confines of the hospital.

Also inside were Ballard’s identification and credit cards. Police were able to get her address from the cards and drove to her home on Lake Harbin in Morrow.

Ballard answered the door and was taken into custody. Police said they found a variety of baby items inside the Expedition.

According to the warrants, Ballard acknowledged responsibility for her actions and expressed remorse.