A New Mexico woman was sentenced to 16 years in prison Monday after leaving her newborn son in a dumpster in the city of Hobbs in January of last year.
The baby, who was found alive by dumpster divers, is doing well, his only health conditions being a potential heart murmur and asthma, according to his father, Stephen Astorga, as reported by KOB 4.
Then-18-year-old Alexis Avila was found guilty on Monday of attempted first degree murder and child abuse resulting in great bodily harm. Before the trial Avila faced a sentence between 12 and 18 years.
However, Judge William G. W. Shoobridge suspended two years of her sentence, saying her age and undiagnosed bipolar disorder may have influenced her decision-making.
“This was a heinous crime,” Shoobridge said. “To toss one’s child in the dumpster like trash is an unforgivable event by any mother.”
Avila will get credit for the 475 days served on house arrest, and she is mandated to attend parenting classes and therapy.
“We’d be looking at a murder case, if not for luck,” the judge said.
If it wasn’t for the grace and happenstance of three dumpster divers, you’d be looking at a murder charge. It’s a miracle that, on the cold night, your child survived. I find that leaving your child in the dumpster, for as long as you did, indicates you had an opportunity to correct your actions but you didn’t. If it also wasn’t for modern medicine, your child would be dead.
New Mexico law allows for parents to bring their baby up to 90 days old to any designated Safe Haven — typically a hospital, law enforcement agency, or fire station — without facing child endangerment charges.
Both Avila’s parents took the stand. Her father, Domingo Avila, said had they known Avila was pregnant, they never would have been in this situation. Avila allegedly did not know she was pregnant until a day before giving birth.
Avila took the stand and said she deeply regrets her actions and missing out on all of her son’s milestones.
“He will always have it in the back of his head that I don’t love him but I still do. Me doing this took away from my parents and family getting to love him,” Avila said. “I still don’t understand how I did this as I don’t think it reflects who I am, but I am truly sorry,” Avila said.
Following the incident last year, city commissioners began crafting plans to install a Safe Haven baby box in Hobbs, the Hobbs News Sun reported. At the time the state had only one such box, in Espanola.
“It’s anonymous, the mother doesn’t have to bring the baby and hand it to a firefighter; she can actually use this device and walk away, and not be seen,” Española Assistant Fire Chief John Wickersham told KOB4.
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