HPD: Did you know you were pregnant?
Hobbs News-Sun exclusive: Hobbs Police interviews with suspect accused of throwing her baby in a dumpster shortly after giving birth, and her mother
Hobbs Police Department officers, responding to a call about an infant found in a dumpster, converged on the vehicle of an unlikely trio of rescuers, Michael Green, Hector Jasso, and April Nuttall, who were sitting inside with a newborn boy held in Nuttall’s arms.
On Tuesday, HPD provided body cam footage requested by the News-Sun of the officers who responded to the call. The footage includes HPD’s interview with the defendant and her mother about the incident.
On Jan. 7, Jasso, Nuttall, and Green were dumpster diving behind Rig Outfitters. Approximately five minutes into searching the dumpsters, Jasso reported to have heard crying coming from one of the dumpsters. Green thought it might have been a dog or a kitten, but after searching the dumpsters, Jasso and Green removed a black trash bag.
The trash bag, to their shock, contained a newborn child.
Alexis Avila, 18, of Hobbs, was arrested on Jan. 8 and charged with attempted first-degree murder, a first-degree felony; or alternatively abuse of a child, a second-degree felony. She is currently being held on house arrest under strict supervision from the court, and under about a half-dozen stipulations, while awaiting trial.
HPD body cam footage shows Nuttall doing all she could to keep the infant warm, as temperatures outside hovered around freezing.
When HPD officers carefully took the infant from Nuttall, the infant began to cry — almost as if he knew he was now safe.
During her interrogation by police, Avila admitted to knowing she was pregnant in August.
“I know that back in March you spoke to some people and told them that you were pregnant,” HPD detectives told Avila during the interrogation. “(A nurse’s daughter) told me that you knew or had prior knowledge … What if I told you that your parents had prior knowledge of you being pregnant? What would you say then?”
“How? Because I didn’t even know,” Avila said in response while showing no remorse.
“We’re talking about a baby who was thrown in a trash like garbage and it’s a human being,” detectives said. “I know that you knew you or had knowledge of being pregnant prior to yesterday.”
“I found out I was pregnant yesterday because I heard it, the doctor showed me. I knew, back in whenever, but I didn’t know,” Avila told detectives. “I knew back in August, maybe a little before that. They didn’t tell me how far along I was when I went to the doctor yesterday. And that’s how I didn’t know it was coming today. … I took two tests back in August, one was positive and one was negative, I took the negative,” Avila said.
“What about as far as movement, gaining weight all of that?” detectives asked.
Avila shook her head no. Avila told detectives she got into a car accident approximately two years ago and due to the pain from that accident, she thought everything was related to that.
Avila’s mother took her to the hospital earlier the same week Avila threw the infant in the dumpster and the hospital allegedly told her it was a “lower lumbar sprain” and gave her narcotics to ease the pain, she told police.
“I gave them my urine sample to see if it was an infection or anything and there was nothing on the urine test,” Avila told detectives. “I just kept hurting and so I went to the clinic and they ran a urine sample and that’s when they told me I was pregnant.”
Avila explained to detectives she thought she was just constipated the day she gave birth.
“My dad got me some medicine that was supposed to help me use the restroom. I woke up and I just kept trying to use the restroom. Then ‘it’ came out and I thought ‘it’ was poop, and ‘it’ was just there,” Avila told detectives. “I was in a panic and I didn’t know what to do. I was scared.
“I cleaned myself and I just left ‘it’ where ‘it’ was, and I was scared. I was trying to call my mom but I couldn’t because I was afraid she was going to hate me. I just turned 18 and I haven’t even been 18 for a month.”
Avila said she gave birth in the restroom of her parents home while no one else was home.
“I just left and I drove around. I put ‘it’ in the (trash) bag and put ‘it’ in the car. When I was in the car, I had two trash bags, the one that was with me and then I put ‘it’ in the other one. I just drove around and I didn’t know what to do. I just put it in there. I drove to JCPenney — I live in that area — and I threw the garbage bag in the trash,” Avila said.
Detectives asked Avila if she secured the trash bag.
“With a hair tie,” she said. “But I don’t even think it stuck cause it was on the verge of breaking.” Avila also told detectives she “tossed it” into the dumpster.
Detectives asked Avila what she believes was going to happen to the infant when she tossed it into the dumpster and she told detectives she didn’t know.
“There was a baby in front of me.”
“It’s not normal behavior from any reasonable person to do what you did,” detectives challenged Avila. “We’re talking about a baby here.”
Avila told detectives she did not let anyone know what had occurred, and detectives pressed her on what she was thinking about the infant.
“At any point did you think about what could have happened to the baby,” detectives asked.
“Yeah, my mom said it was in Lubbock is it okay?” Avila asked.
“Last I heard the baby is okay,” detectives said.
On the video of the interview with police Avila could then be heard saying “Oh, thank God,” under her breath, and she softly cried for about 30 seconds.
“Did it ever cross your mind to contact law enforcement, to go back?” detectives asked.
“I don’t know. I was still in shock. My parents got home and I was still in shock. I was just in my room. I never left home. I didn’t tell them,” Avila responded.
Detectives told Avila they had a report of her running away from home in June where she sent seemingly suicidal text messages to her mother saying Avila was “going to be with God.”
“Is there somebody we need to talk to, did he (the boyfriend) do something to you that would lead to this?” detectives asked Avila.
“No, he had nothing to do with this,” Avila said.
Avila told detectives the father of the infant is Stephen Astorga. Astorga, and his parents, sent a brief statement through his attorney about the incident last week, but has not returned numerous calls for comment from the News-Sun.
The couple dated for about a year before Avila broke off the relationship in August “due to things not working out,” Avila told police.
“Obviously if you know enough for you to tell me that he is the father of your child, you should have known when you got pregnant right?” detectives asked.
Avila laughed and said, “Honestly, not really. He’s the only person I’ve been with.”
Detectives told Avila they were “trying to understand your actions behind throwing the infant in the dumpster.”
“I knew I was too young, but I knew I would be able to (be pregnant). I’m about to graduate school, so school isn’t my worry. I have a stable job, and money’s not a worry for me. I would be able to (have a baby) … If the baby’s okay I want it,” Avila said.
HPD detectives also interviewed Martha Avila Alexis’ mother.
Martha told detectives she never knew Alexis was pregnant and believed her pain was either due to the car accident Alexis had a few years ago, or constipation.
“I assumed she was just constipated. My husband thought she was constipated as well because of the pain she was having. The doctor at the ER told her to make an appointment with her physician, so she did and I couldn’t go with her because I had to work,” Martha told detectives. “They told her she was constipated and that’s all I know until today. After you told us, I went into the room and asked her what was going on. She was like, ‘What? No. Yeah, I threw in the trash.’ She told me she found out yesterday she was pregnant and she didn’t know it was going to come this fast. I mean she gained weight but nothing to where I can say she’s pregnant.”
Detectives told Martha that Alexis said Martha knew Alexis was pregnant.
“She says that you had knowledge and knew she was pregnant,” detectives challenged.
“Yeah, because she just told me,” Martha said.
“Before this, she said that you knew,” detectives probed further.
Avila’s mother went silent for a few seconds, then stated, “No, I didn’t know that she was pregnant.”
“Yesterday you found out she was pregnant but not when she went to the doctor?” detectives followed up.
“She told me the doctor’s said she was constipated and that was it. … I popped her back, and usually if you’re pregnant you don’t lay on your stomach, nor do you have your mom pop your back. I mean I don’t even know if she knew she was pregnant,” said Martha.
Martha said police were called in the June incident because a relative of the family called Martha and said Astorga had “apparently hit her (Alexis).”
“It looked like she had been crying, and her cheek was a little pink because she’s light complected and you can tell if she’s been hit or something. … I told her she needed to bring him over to the house if he really did hit her and she did,” said Martha. “He went with his parents and as soon as my husband tried to explain to his dad what was going on, and why they were called, the dad got very aggressive and so I called the cops.
“Apparently, he didn’t and she defended him.”
Martha confirmed she believes Stephen is the father of the infant.
“His name is Stephen. … I never really asked, I guess because after that incident I seen him different. He denied hitting her, but I felt as if you’re not man enough to tell me if you really did hit her, I really didn’t care for him after that.
“I didn’t pay much attention to him after that. He was not allowed to come back to the house.”
Martha reported Alexis to be suicidal after one friend died of suicide.
“After her friends passed away — Johnny and Cooper — she was suicidal,” Martha told detectives.
“Was she suicidal because she was depressed of their passing?” detectives asked.
“I would say yes because she’s always been a happy kid,” Martha said.
Gabrielle Arsiaga may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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