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A former Forked River high school student pleaded innocent Monday to charges that she murdered the baby she delivered at her senior prom.

Melissa Drexler has been free on $50,000 bail since she was initially charged June 24. A Monmouth County jury indicted her last month, saying she wrapped the infant boy she delivered in a plastic bag and discarded him in a trash can.

The trial is set to begin Jan. 20.

County Prosecutor John Kaye has said the state will not seek the death penalty for Ms. Drexler, who was 17 at the time of the alleged murder, because of her age, lack of criminal record and emotional state.

A maintenance man found the full-term newborn in a trash bag in a women's restroom at an Aberdeen banquet hall June 6.

Teachers acting as chaperons at the prom tried to resuscitate the 6-pound baby, but it was pronounced dead two hours later.

By then, authorities said, Ms. Drexler had rejoined the 360 students from Lacey Township High School who jammed the dance floor. She danced and asked a disc jockey to play a favorite song.

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