Alexis Avila sentenced for tossing her newborn baby in trash dumpster in New Mexico

Alexis Avila sentenced for tossing her newborn baby in trash dumpster in New Mexico

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A New Mexico teenage mother was sentenced Monday to a mandatory 18 years in prison for tossing her newborn son into a trash dumpster behind a shopping center, but a state district judge cited mental health concerns and the defendant’s age in suspending two years of the punishment.

Jurors convicted Alexis Avila, 19, of child abuse involving great bodily harm following a days-long trial last month in which her public defender argued her actions were not premeditated and that a previously undiagnosed mental health disorder played a role.

Judge William Shoobridge told Avila that had it not been for luck and the grace of God he would have been deliberating a sentence in a murder case, as there was a high probability the child would have died had it not been found that winter day in Hobbs, near the Texas border.

Avila told the judge she wants to learn how to deal with stress and anxiety and said she regrets missing out on her son’s first milestones.

“I regret his first hours of life were traumatic, and I regret that he will always have this in the back of his head and will think I do not love him because that’s what he’ll read and hear,” she said. “But that’s not true at all. I do love him. I truly do.”

Avila was arrested in January 2022.

Police said a group of people were looking through the trash bin when they found the baby and tried to keep the boy warm until police and paramedics arrived. Investigators used surveillance video to identify a car suspected of being involved, which led them to Avila.

Public defender Ibukun Adepoju disputed that Avila made a premeditated attempt to kill her baby. Abepoju said while Avila’s actions were wrong, they were the result of her bipolar disorder and that she was disassociated and detached from her feelings.

“Now Alexis will be about 34 years old when she gets out of prison,” Adepoju said in a statement after the sentencing. “We’re trying to work with the prison to make sure she has access to therapy and education while incarcerated, so that when she gets out she can have a meaningful life.

CBS affiliate KRQE reported that Jack Hancock, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked with Avila, vouched for her “persistent mental health issues” during the trial.

They also called Avila’s mother to the stand who said, “This is not an action she would have taken if she would have been in her right state of mind,” the station reported.

Avila’s case spurred new conversations in New Mexico communities and among legislators about the state’s safe haven law, which allows parents to leave a baby younger than 90 days at a safe location without criminal consequences. Such laws first began to pass in state legislatures in the early 2000s in response to reports of baby killings and abandonments.

New Mexico lawmakers in 2022 approved a bill to expand the state’s Safe Haven Program and provide funds to build one baby box for every county where an infant can be left.

Boxes have been installed in several other states. Florida is the latest to consider legislation that would allow for the boxes.

Hobbs Abandoned Baby
This undated photo provided by the Hobbs Police Department shows Alexis Avila.

AP


Avila’s sentence comes just days after a Minnesota woman who admitted to leaving her newborn son to die near the Mississippi River two decades ago was sentenced to 27 years in prison. Jennifer Matter was sentenced Friday for second-degree murder.





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