A New Mexico teenager accused of throwing her newborn son into a dumpster last week has been charged with child abuse and attempted murder.
In court Wednesday, a judge put Alexis Avila, 18, of Hobbs, New Mexico, on house arrest and prohibited her from seeing her son, who is receiving treatment in a Texas hospital, according to KOB News 4.
Judge William Shoobridge said he rarely sees so much evidence against a defendant, pointing to a surveillance video and Avila’s confession to police, according to the report.
The Hobbs Police Department arrested Avila after a surveillance video showed her allegedly throwing a trash bag containing the infant into a dumpster Jan. 7 behind a local business.
About six hours later, the surveillance video showed three individuals finding the infant while searching through the dumpster, police said. According to local news reports, the temperature was in the mid-30s on the day when the baby was abandoned.
April Nutall, one of the people who found the baby, said they heard cries in the dumpster but initially thought it was a kitten. When they found the baby boy, naked and bloody, she said she immediately took him into her arms and tried to warm him.
“And I put him in my arms and I didn’t know what to do after that,” Nutall told KOB 4, crying. “His arms were ice cold.”
Police said they took the baby to a hospital in Hobbs, but he later was transferred to a Lubbock, Texas hospital with an advanced neonatal intensive care unit.
The baby was also given a blood transfusion, put on a feeding tube, and given oxygen. The baby is currently in stable condition.
Court documents say when evaluated, the baby’s temperature was so low that it didn’t register, indicating hypothermia. The chief says they’re scheduling an interview with who they believe to be the baby’s father, a juvenile who reportedly says he didn’t know about the pregnancy.
Hobbs Police Chief August Fons said Avila admitted to throwing her newborn in the dumpster after she “panicked.”
According to police, Avila said she did not realize that she was pregnant until a day or two before she gave birth on Jan. 7. Police said she gave birth to her son in her parents’ bathroom at home and then “wrapped the baby in a towel and placed the baby in a white trash bag, containing some trash and then inside a larger trash bag.”
When police asked her what she thought would happen to the baby, “Alexis remained silent and could not answer,” Fons said.
Police said they also spoke to Avila’s mother who did not know that her daughter had been pregnant.
In response to the incident, city leaders of Española, New Mexico announced plans to install a Safe Haven baby box where mothers can safely surrender their newborns to authorities without repercussions, Fox News reports.
Mayor Javier Sanchez said they hope to have the box installed in the fire station in March. The baby box has cushioning, temperature control and an alarm to keep the baby safe and warm until authorities can rescue the child.
Española will be the first city in New Mexico with a baby box, but the Hobbs incident may prompt more to follow, according to Fox News.
“I called the mayor in Hobbs and he was telling me a little bit about the situation and what’s going on,” Sanchez told KRQE. “As we got to talking, we said, we need to put one of these in all of our cities. We decided we’ll bring this up at our next mayor’s conference so we can talk to all of the mayors who are interested and we can roll this out in more than just one location.”
All 50 states have safe haven laws that allow mothers to safely surrender their newborns to authorities, often at a police station or hospital, without repercussions as long as the infant is unharmed. Typically, laws allow safe surrender within 30 days of the baby’s birth. Some states also have baby boxes where women can safely surrender their newborn baby if they cannot take care of the baby.