Newstrack: February trial set for Iowa woman accused of leaving newborn in trash

Baby was found alive in restroom at University of Iowa hospital

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Background

A Davenport woman was charged last summer with attempted murder after police say she left her newborn in a trash can after giving birth in a restroom at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

The child was alive and later found by hospital employees.

Ashley Hautzenrader, 23, told UI police she thought the baby was stillborn when she gave birth May 8 in a restroom of the John Colloton Pavilion at the hospital, a criminal complaint shows. She delivered the baby in a toilet about 9:24 p.m. Later, Hautzenrader told police she didn’t know she was pregnant, and the baby wasn’t crying when born so she thought it was dead.

Hautzenrader admitted to police that she attempted to flush the baby down the toilet, but then put the infant in a pillow case and another bag before placing the baby in a trash can within the restroom, the complaint shows. She then cleaned up the restroom and left. She didn’t tell anybody about the baby or try to get help for her child, according to the complaint.

Hospital employees later found the infant alive in the trash can, according to the complaint.

UI officials previously said they couldn’t comment on the condition of the infant, citing a federal health privacy law. The Safe Haven law in Iowa would have allowed Hautzenrader to turn over the child to the hospital without facing criminal prosecution.

What’s happened since

She initially was charged May 10 with child endangerment, an aggravated misdemeanor. But after police obtained a search warrant for her cellphone, four days after the birth, she also was charged with attempted murder.

An affidavit shows the cellphone contained text messages between Hautzenrader and her boyfriend about her being pregnant.

Hautzenrader was ordered to not have contact with her child and she was released under supervision of the Department of Correctional Services pending trial.

In November, a judge authorized employees of UIHC to testify in depositions, as requested by prosecutors, about Hautzenrader’s medical records and those of her daughter “AH” and her son, “Baby 19,” court documents show.

Hautzenrader waived her rights regarding the medical records, which usually are confidential.

Court documents show Hautzenrader doesn’t have custody of either child.

Her trial has been reset to Feb. 14 in Johnson County District Court.

If convicted on both charges, she faces up to 27 years in prison.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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