Ann Pettway, accused of kidnapping Carlina White from a hospital 23 years ago and raising the girl as her own daughter, pleaded not guilty to the charges today.
Pettway responded "yes sir," when a federal judge in a New York courtoorm asked if she was pleading not guilty to kidnapping. Pettway is accused of impersonating a nurse and taking Carlina White from Harlem Hospital in 1987 when White was just 19 days old.
The not guilty plea was a surprise since Pettway had previously had confessed to police.
When Pettway turned herself in to authorities in January, she admitted to stealing White from Harlem Hospital and told federal agents she was "truly sorry," according to court documents.
Pettway said at the time she stole the baby only after a series of miscarriages and the realization she would not be able to conceive, according to the criminal complaint against her.
Despite being raised by Pettway, White became suspicious of the woman who raised her and took her concerns to the authorities.
When Pettway could not produce White's birth certificate, the young woman began searching missing person Web sites and eventually contacted the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Authorities checked her DNA against her birth parents and realized she was their missing daughter.
White's birth mother Joy White and biological sister Lisa White were in court today to see Pettway arraigned.
"She looked like she has no remorse," Lisa White told the New York Post. "She don't care about no one. That woman is dangerous."
Joy White took her daughter to Harlem Hospital in 1987 when the infant developed a fever. Pettway pretended to be a nurse, took the baby and fled.
Pettway told FBI agents how she snatched the baby and took "her on a train to Pettway's home in Bridgeport, Connecticut," according to court documents.
"Pettway told her friends and family members that the victim was her child," investigators said in their filing with the court.
Pettway renamed White "Nedjra Nance." Pettway has several aliases as well as a criminal record that includes charges of embezzlement, forgery, theft and drugs.
White has described Pettway as an abusive mother who would throw things like shoes at her.