A 24-year-old Iowa mother was spared jail time and sentenced to five years probation after she was found guilty of leaving her newborn son wrapped in a pillowcase inside a hospital trash can.
Judge Marsha Bergan ruled on Friday (Sept. 1) that probation time for Ashley Hautzenrader would be more effective than time spent behind bars. The decision was made after a jury deliberated for three hours and Hautzenrader spoke uninterrupted for 30 minutes about what led her to make her decision.
Hautzenrader spoke in great length about the many times she drove back and forth to the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics because her eldest child was battling a severe heart condition and was admitted into the intensive care unit.
“I’m just asking you to listen and try to understand what I’ve been through,” Hautzenrader told the court.
According to reports, Hautzenrader gave birth to her son on May 8, 2016, in a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics bathroom. Police say Hautzenrader didn’t know she was pregnant and assumed her son was dead and at first tried to flush her newborn down the toilet. She then placed the child in the trash. The baby was found alive by hospital cleaning staff a short while later.
Judge Bergan said that her decision to hand down probation instead of prison time was “not an easy decision.” But what led to the judge’s probation verdict was she took into account Hautzenrader’s age, the fact she had no prior convictions and that Hautzenrader agreed to seek treatment for PTSD.
Had Bergen not received probation, she would’ve faced two years for child endangerment and 10 years for neglect or abandonment of a dependent person. The sentences would’ve been served concurrently. Hautzenrader’s attempted murder charged carried a minimum of 25 years. The charge was dropped in a plea deal when she agreed to a guilty plea of two lesser charges.