New Mexico woman pleads not guilty to putting baby in trash

This undated photo provided by the Hobbs Police Department shows Alexis Avila, an 18-year-old Hobbs woman facing charges after police say she abandoned her newborn baby in a dumpster. (Hobbs Police Department via AP) (Hobbs Police Department)

HOBBS, N.M. – An 18-year-old New Mexico woman accused of abandoning her newborn baby in a dumpster pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of attempted first-degree murder and child abuse.

Alexis Avila of Hobbs was told by a Lea County judge at her arraignment that she can stay out of jail pending trial and set house arrest as a main condition of release.

Police said a group of people were looking through a dumpster for anything of value last Friday in Hobbs, near the Texas border, when they heard what they thought was a dog or kitten.

They moved a trash bag and found a baby inside, wrapped in a dirty blanket with its umbilical cord still attached.

They immediately called authorities and tried to keep the boy warm until police and paramedics arrived.

Investigators used surveillance video to identify a car suspected of being involved. That led them to Avila, who admitted to giving birth at another location and then leaving the baby in a dumpster.

Questioned by police, Avila said she was not aware that she was pregnant until Jan. 6 when she sought medical attention for abdominal pain.

She told detectives that she was experiencing stomach pain the next day and unexpectedly gave birth.

Search warrants for Avila’s car and her family’s home turned up blood evidence, clothing and a towel.

Authorities said the infant is in the care of the New Mexico Department of Children, Youth and Families.

Like other states, New Mexico has a safe haven law, which allows parents to leave a baby younger than 90 days at a safe location without criminal consequences. The laws began to pass in state legislatures around the nation in the early 2000s in response to reports of gruesome baby killings and abandonments, which received copious media attention.