Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Orange County woman sentenced to prison for dumping newborn in trash

September 24, 2010 |  6:04 pm

An Orange County mother who dumped her newborn baby girl in a trash receptacle and left her for dead was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for attempted murder and child abuse.

Shawn Kelli Sepulveda, 41, of Laguna Niguel, tried to hide her pregnancy from her husband because he was not the father, said Farrah Emami, spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney’s office.

According to prosecutors, Sepulveda gave birth to a girl on Aug.16, 2008, in her apartment, then left the baby for dead in an outdoor receptacle. When her husband awoke, he found a bloody knife, along with blood in the house and on his wife’s clothes, and, suspecting that his wife had been pregnant, sent his older daughter out to look for the baby.

The daughter found the baby, who was healthy, and alerted apartment staff, who took the baby and called 911, Emami said. The girl is 2 and in fine condition, Emami said.

In the jury trial, Sepulveda admitted that she knew she could have placed the baby up for adoption or surrendered her to a fire station. California law allows a parent or person with lawful custody to surrender a baby to a public or private hospital, designated fire station or other safe surrender site within 72 hours of birth. This can be done confidentially with no questions asked and without fear of prosecution.

“With programs like that in place, it’s mind-blowing that a mother would try to kill her child,” Emami said.

She said the Orange County district attorney’s office is prosecuting at least three other cases where young women allegedly killed their babies shortly after birth.

Yanira Valderrama, 19, is accused of drowning her newborn in a toilet and throwing the body in a trash can in Fullerton in September 2009. In April, Yoselin Tovar, 18, allegedly stabbed her newborn multiple times shortly after giving birth, wrapped the body up and put it in the closet of her Fullerton family home. Both women were trying to hide their pregnancies from their parents, Emami said.

In a third case, Juana Valencia, a Stanton food server, is accused of murdering her newborn after giving birth to her in the restaurant she worked at and throwing the body in a receptacle.

“Unfortunately, we do see cases of mothers murdering or attempting to murder their children far more than anyone would want,” Emami said. “It’s horrifying.”

-- Teresa Watanabe