UPDATE: Shawn Kelli Sepulveda was convicted of attempted murder today. Details on her sentencing at end of post . . .
A Laguna Niguel woman was convicted today of leaving her newborn daughter to die in an apartment complex dumpster.
The jury in Fullerton found 40-year-old Shawn Kelli Sepulveda--who friends called a "doting soccer mom" upon her August 2008 arrest--guilty of attempted murder and child abuse.
Sepulveda's then-11-year-old daughter discovered the newborn in the rubbish receptacle and alerted apartment personnel, who called 9-1-1.
The girl had no idea she had just saved her sister.
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The doting soccer mom's three children--including the baby girl--were placed in protective custody. A "distraught" Sepulveda was placed on suicide watch in jail. At the time, her lawyer surmised his client--who had no criminal record nor any previous visits from Child Protective Services--must have suffered some kind of mental breakdown that led her to discard her baby.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office statement on the conviction follows:
July 28, 2010
MOTHER CONVICTED OF ATTEMPTED MURDER AND CHILD ABUSE OF NEWBORN BABY LEFT IN LAGUNA NIGUEL APARTMENT DUMPSTER
FULLERTON - A mother was convicted today of attempting to murder her newborn baby girl and abusing her by leaving her in an apartment complex dumpster. Shawn Kelli Sepulveda, 40, Laguna Niguel, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of attempted murder and one felony count of child abuse. She faces a maximum sentence up to 15 years in state prison at her sentencing on Sept. 24, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. in Department N-10, North Justice Center, Fullerton.
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 is prosecuting this case.