A teen mom in New Mexico has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for leaving her newborn baby in a dumpster in the city of Hobbs in January 2022. The baby survived.
According to NBC News, a jury convicted Alexis Avila, now 19, of attempt to commit first-degree murder and abuse of a child resulting in great bodily harm. She faced up to 18 years in prison.
Fifth Judicial District Attorney Dianna Luce, the prosecutor in the case, called Avila’s actions “an especially heinous crime.” Judge William G. Shoobridge sentenced Avila, who had wrapped her newborn son in at least two plastic bags filled with garbage before throwing him into a dumpster behind a mall. Prosecutors had demanded the maximum sentence of 18 years, citing Avila’s “lack of emotion” during the trial. The defense attorneys asked for a six-year sentence, citing Avila’s mental health and eligibility for rehab.
“We are thankful that the Court found that this especially heinous crime was a serious violent offense and that the defendant will receive a just punishment for committing this crime against an innocent newborn,” said Luce. “This sentence is a warning to all who would try to kill innocent children that you will be held accountable.”
New Mexico’s Safe Haven law allows parents to leave a baby up to 90 days old at “safe haven sites” such as a hospital, fire station, or police station, without facing charges. Meanwhile, New Mexico has one of the most liberal abortion laws in the nation.
Avila, who was 18 at the time of the child’s birth, admitted to putting the baby in the dumpster after security footage from the store, Rig Outfitters, was reviewed. The baby was found by three passersby five hours later, who warmed him up and called for an ambulance.
“We just found a baby in the god***n trash,” one of the men who found the baby told the 911 dispatcher. “He’s whimpering, he was not crying actually. I was looking for some stuff in the dumpster and we heard… We heard something. I didn’t know it was a baby. Thought it was a cat.”
Avila said she did not know she was pregnant until the day before she gave birth, though classmates contradicted that story. When she gave birth in her parents’ home, she cut the umbilical cord and put the baby in a trash bag that had trash in it before putting that bag into a larger trash bag. After police used the car’s license plate from the store surveillance video to identify Avila, her parents brought her to police.
The store owner, Joe Imbriale, started a GoFundMe page for the baby, saying, “I want this baby to know it is loved. That just because your mom did that does not mean you are not loved. People care about you. People care about what you feel and think.”
According to a video broadcast by NBC affiliate KOB, in court on Monday, Avila said, “I know what I did was wrong, and the only person I truly need to apologize to is my baby.”
She also said, “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. I still don’t understand how I did this as I don’t think it reflects who I am, but I am truly sorry.”
The baby’s paternal grandfather fought for custody of the baby and the baby’s father, who was just 16 at the time of the child’s birth, said the baby is doing well.