18-year-old Alexis Avila was charged with attempted murder and felony child abuse after allegedly dropping off her newborn in a dumpster on Friday, January 7, in Hobbs, New Mexico.

Surveillance footage from the nearby Rig Outfitters and Home Store shows Avila getting out of her car and leaving the baby in the dumpster, fleeing the scene.

Now, a New Mexico judge has found Alexis Avila guilty of attempted first-degree murder and child abuse. As KCBD reported, New Mexico Judge William Shoobridge sentenced Avila to 16 years in prison.

The sentence was handed down Monday, two weeks after a jury found Avila guilty.

Prosecutors argued that, despite the mother’s mental instability, the crime was intentional and violent. They said she showed no remorse for her actions until she heard the verdict.

A sentence for an admitted crime

According to Hobbs Police Interim Chief August Fons, the newborn was wrapped in a towel, placed inside a white plastic bag with trash around it, and finally put in a larger black trash bag before being thrown.

Police said that Avila confessed to the crime.

“Your Honor, what we see here is a pattern of someone who not only is not showing remorse but someone who, in fact, takes deliberate steps in her own recollection of this event to minimize her own role,” said Attorney General Deputy of Prosecution Mark Probasco. “It’s something that was manifest and clear in the video, which was that she was attempting to kill the most innocent life, the most helpless life of her own child.”

For her part, Alexis Avila, who was the last person to speak in court, asked for forgiveness from her son and her family.

“I regret that I deprived him of having a loving and caring family,” she said. “Yes, he has his dad and his dad’s family, but when my family and I love, we love hard, and we love with everything we can. To my family, family is everything to us. My nephews and my niece are everything to myself and my parents.”

A tragedy that opens an important conversation

The act has come as a shock to many in the community and beyond, but many are now calling for more discussions on exactly what to do if someone has a baby they cannot care for. 

As per Hobbs’ police chief, Avila did not know she was pregnant until the day before giving birth, seeking “medical attention” for pain in her abdomen and constipation. By January 7, Avila suffered more abdominal pain and gave birth, cutting the umbilical cord, wrapping the baby in a towel and bags, and leaving them in a dumpster.

Fons relayed that Avila told them she “panicked, did not know what to do or who to call” the moment she gave birth. Thankfully, the baby was found by people who heard crying noises, alerting police, who estimate they were in the dumpster for hours. The child was rushed to the hospital and is now “stable.”

Meanwhile, the supposed father of the child Stephen Astorga is just 16 years old, and the two broke up back in August 2021

As of late, conflicting reports have surfaced

While Avila has maintained she did not know she was pregnant, Daily Mail reported that a high school classmate said, “I heard her talk about being pregnant around late September, early October.” He continued, “She never expressed that it was a bad thing that she was pregnant.”

While the classmate allegedly explained to the outlet that Avila told ex-boyfriend Astorga that she had actually miscarried, the facts are still he-said, she-said at this point. Daily Mail also reports that Avila dropped out of high school on December 17, which only lends more weight to the argument that perhaps the 18-year-old did not know how she would support her newborn child.

It can be assumed that Avila did not have the resources to understand that she had better options within the law for surrendering her baby. As Avila’s mother, Martha Avila, 47, told the Daily Mail, “People can talk and give their opinion. Everybody makes mistakes. People can preach all they want, they can judge all they want, but we only care about the judgment of one.”

So what are the proper resources for surrendering a newborn child?

Telemundo recently reported on the “safe haven” law, explaining the legal ways someone can surrender a baby they cannot care for, which also assures the safety of the child in question.

The outlet explained that this law allows someone to leave a newborn baby in a safe place with no charges placed against them and no questions asked. Cinthia Delgado from the organization A Safe Haven For Newborns said, “The biggest impact has been giving mothers the opportunity for [the act] to be anonymous.” 

There are “safe haven baby boxes” in several cities in the country, and safe drop-off places may include fire departments, police stations, hospitals, and emergency centers.

Other important things to know?

Experts recommend placing a bracelet on the baby and writing any medical conditions it may have, and if leaving the child at a hospital, it is important to go through the emergency entrance. Meanwhile, lawyer Sandra Hoyos says that the process is “100% anonymous” and that a person’s migratory status is not questioned. However, people should know that different states have differing laws, so informing yourself about your specific state’s laws is crucial. 

While Avila’s newborn is now in stable condition, according to the New York Post, Stephen Astorga’s father, Oscar, is now allegedly seeking custody.

CBS 7 reports that the Rig Outfitters and Home Store’s owner Joe Imbriale has set up a GoFundMe page for the newborn.

Imbriale explains, “I did this to let this child know that there are thousands of people out there that love you and want to take care of you.” The owner says he will hire a lawyer to make sure only the child has access to the money, while The City of Hobbs is accepting other kinds of donations like diapers, toys, or gift cards at the New Mexico Children Youth & Families Department’s office at 907 West Calle Sur, Hobbs, New Mexico.