Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
MOTHER SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER AND CHILD ABUSE OF NEWBORN BABY LEFT IN LAGUNA NIGUEL APARTMENT DUMPSTER
FULLERTON – A mother was sentenced today to five years in state prison for attempting to murder her newborn baby girl and abusing her by leaving her in an apartment complex dumpster. Shawn Kelli Sepulveda, 41, Laguna Niguel, was found guilty by a jury July 28, 2010, of one felony count of attempted murder and one felony count of child abuse.
In August 2008, Sepulveda was pregnant and tried to hide it from her husband and two children, ages 11 and 13, because her husband was not the father of the unborn baby. Despite her family’s suspicion, the defendant denied that she was pregnant and frequently consumed alcohol.
Early in the morning on Aug. 16, 2008, Sepulveda gave birth to a baby girl, Jane Doe, in her Laguna Niguel apartment. At approximately 7:00 a.m., Sepulveda wrapped Jane Doe in a towel and carried her to a dumpster in the apartment complex. She removed the towel and abandoned the naked baby in the dumpster, taking the towel with her when she left. The baby was only a few hours old. Sepulveda failed to care for her baby’s health and well being when she left Jane Doe to die.
That morning, Sepulveda’s husband awoke to find blood in the bathroom and bedroom and a bloody knife in the bedroom. When the defendant returned to the apartment, her husband and daughter observed that she had blood on her clothing. Sepulveda’s husband then sent their daughter to look for the baby.
Sepulveda’s daughter discovered the baby in the dumpster and alerted apartment staff, who removed Jane Doe and called 911. The defendant was arrested that morning. The victim was transported to the hospital and taken into protective custody.
During the jury trial, evidence was presented that Sepulveda admitted to police that she was aware that instead of abandoning Jane Doe in a dumpster, she could have placed the baby up for adoption or surrendered her to a fire station.
California’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law (SSB) allows a parent or person with lawful custody to safely surrender a baby to a public or private hospital, designated fire station, or other safe surrender site within 72 hours of birth. This safe surrender can be done confidentially with no questions asked and without fear of prosecution.
Deputy District Attorney Cyril Yu of the Family Protection Unit prosecuted this case.