Accused Mother Could've Used Safe Haven Law

Accused Mother Could've Used Safe Haven Law

Texas Parents Have 60 Days to Legally Abandon Children
DALHART -- No comment from the Dalhart woman accused of throwing a newborn baby in a dumpster.

    Shonnie Smalley, 21, is free tonight on $50,000 bond.

    Smalley is charged with injury to a child.

    She was arrested early Sunday morning at her parents home in Dalhart about 8 hours after the baby boy was discovered in a dumpster on the 1800 block of Chestnut.

    Police say they gathered enough evidence while questioning residents in the neighborhood to charge Smalley.

    The baby boy is being treated in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) At Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo.
   
    Investigators believe he was near full term when he was born and had been in the dumpster for about six hours when he was discovered.

    Agents with Child Protective Services were in Dalhart Tuesday investigating.

    They're expected to file a court order to take custody of the baby once he's released from the hospital.

    The hospital's Caytie Martin says there are options for new mothers other than discarding their babies.  Specifically, the state's safe haven law.

    "There can be a happy ending with safe haven laws.  The best thing we want to do is educate the community that if they were in a circumstance and they felt they had no place to go and they could not take care of that baby, they bring that baby safe to a safe haven place and leave that baby."  Martin said.

    Martin knows how well the safe haven law works.  Nine years ago, a woman abandoned her baby at the hospital which is a designated safe haven place.

    Children up to 60-days old can be left at any hospital, EMS station or child welfare office without legal repercussions.

    We did speak with Smalley Tuesday afternoon but, she referred all questions to her attorney.

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