72.1 F
Saturday, May 18, 2024

City exploring options for baby box after death of newborn

Related stories

Bulldogs advance to state semis, Lady ‘Dogs go 1-1 to stay alive

The Bulldog baseball team advanced to the Class 4A...

Sitting Bull Falls gate to reopen under modified hours

ALAMOGORDO -- The U.S. Forest Service has announced Thursday,...

A 19-year-old Artesia woman was charged last month with murder after leaving her newborn in a trash can at Artesia General Hospital, and the tragic incident is sparking discussions in the community about options for young women who feel they have nowhere to turn in the face of an unexpected pregnancy.

Alexee J. Trevizo was formally charged May 10  with first-degree murder or, alternatively, intentional abuse of a child resulting in death and tampering with evidence in connection with the Jan. 27 death of her son. Trevizo presented to the emergency room at Artesia General in the early-morning hours of that day, complaining of back pain.

She denied being pregnant when questioned by nursing staff, but after lab work confirmed her pregnancy, Trevizo reportedly locked  herself in a hospital bathroom and refused to exit for an extended period of time. After nursing staff obtained the keys from security, Trevizo opened the door and returned to her room.

A large amount of blood found in the bathroom led nurses to believe the girl was experiencing pregnancy complications, and they began preparing her for emergency airlift to Lovelace Medical Center in Roswell. However, a custodian called in to clean the bathroom found a deceased male infant in the trash can, tied in a trash bag.

Trevizo allegedly told medical staff the baby had not been breathing upon birth, but a report from the Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI) stated air in the lungs and stomach indicated the infant was born alive. The OMI listed the cause of death as entrapment — which occurs when an individual in an airtight or relatively airtight container runs out of oxygen — and the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office subsequently issued the charge of murder.

The incident comes just over one year after an 18-year-old Hobbs woman was arrested for throwing her newborn son in a dumpster behind a shopping center and mere days after that woman — now-19-year-old Alexis Avila — was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Avila had also tied her child in a plastic bag before leaving him in the dumpster. In that case, however, the baby was found by dumpster divers six hours later, still alive.

Avila was convicted of attempted first-degree murder and child abuse involving great bodily harm. The incident left the community of Hobbs reeling, and in the summer of 2022, the city became the second in the state — behind Espanola in February of that year — to install a Safe Haven box, commonly referred to as a baby box.

Now confronted with a similar tragedy, it’s a discussion that has taken on new urgency in Artesia. City leaders, including Police Chief Kirk Roberts and Fire Chief Kevin Hope, had already been involved in preliminary discussions regarding the installing of a Safe Haven box in Artesia.

“Having another safe option to surrender a newborn baby can always be beneficial to our community, and it’s something that our city leaders will be looking at in the very near future,” Cmdr. Pete Quinones said.

Roswell became the third city in the state to house a box in late April, installed at the community’s Central Fire Station. According to Quinones, per the state’s “Safe Haven for Infants” law, safe-haven sites can only legally be located at a hospital, fire department or law-enforcement agency with round-the-clock staffing.

Safe Haven boxes are temporary shelters that allow a parent to anonymously and safely surrender a child. New Mexico’s safe-haven law allows parents to leave infants younger than 90 days in a safe location with no criminal consequences.

“Once the baby is placed in the box and the door is shut,” Quinones said, “the box will be locked on the outside of the building and silent alarms will be activated to notify the personnel in that building that a baby has been placed inside.

“There, personnel will temporarily take care of the child and notify the proper authorities (the Children, Youth and Families Department) of the surrender.”

The discovery of an unexpected pregnancy can be a traumatic experience, particularly for teens and younger women, and the underlying message in the Safe Haven Program is that there are options available. An individual in shock might see no way out, but Quinones stressed that’s not the case, regardless of whether or not a community has yet installed a Safe Haven box.

“Because of recent events in Hobbs and Artesia, it’s important that we educate our citizens that the Safe Haven Act has been around for almost 20 years and that there is no punishment for surrendering your newborn child to a safe-haven site,” he said.

Safe-haven sites in Artesia would include Artesia General Hospital, the Artesia Police Department and the Artesia Fire Department.

Trevizo has been bound over to Fifth Judicial District Court in Carlsbad, where she is currently awaiting a Sept. 11 pre-trial hearing before Judge Jane Shuler-Gray. A jury trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 2.

The APD has issued a follow-up statement in the wake of the arrest that illustrates the widespread effects of such tragic incidents. Residents are being urged to share information on the Safe Haven Act and options available to young women to help prevent further heartbreak.

“Our officers and crime scene processor, along with the hospital staff, experienced a heartbreaking situation on that January morning and have been coping with what they encountered,” the APD statement reads. “One of the worst calls any first responder or public service person has to respond to is the severe injury or death of a child. We are expected to be ‘tough’ in those types of incidents because of our job titles, but in all actuality, we are quite the opposite.

“Our routine calls of service or emergency responses are usually carried out easily with commitment and dedication for our city, but a call like this can be a breaking point for some or all of those involved. It’s important that we provide the very best resources, counseling and stress-management tools to help our staff cope with this traumatic event, so that they may continue their dedicated service.”

Brienne Green
Daily Press Editor

Join the Artesia Daily Press Newsletter

Stay informed with the latest Artesia news and updates, directly in your inbox. Subscribe now!


Latest stories