Mother accused of leaving newborn in dumpster gets 5 years probation in deal

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 29-year-old Austin woman accused of leaving her newborn baby in a dumpster pleaded guilty Tuesday as part of a plea deal and was sentenced to five years of probation.

In October 2017, Althea Johnson, who was 27 at the time, was accused of leaving her newborn baby in a dumpster near her home at the Mira Vista Apartments. A homeless man who was dumpster diving heard the infant’s crying and found her among the trash. The placenta was still attached to the baby and she was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Upon recovering, she was released to family members.

Officers followed a trail of blood from the dumpster to a sidewalk leading to the master bedroom of one of the apartments. Johnson was arrested and was charged with abandonment/endangerment of a child.

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Althea Johnson
Althea Johnson on the stand during April 2019 trial (KXAN File Image)

In April, Johnson’s case went to court but it ended in a mistrial after jurors couldn’t agree on a verdict.

“Jurors in that trial stated that they believed Johson was involved, but they did not feel there was sufficient evidence found at the scene to establish who had physically put the baby in the dumpster,” according to a release from the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

She was released from jail the next day, awaiting the next steps in her case.

Last month, Johnson’s lawyers and prosecutors met in court to discuss a plea deal with the judge in her second trial. At the time, prosecutors broached the idea of 10 years probation instead of moving to another trial. Her attorney told the judge that she intended to make a counter-offer.

Tuesday, Johnson accepted a deal and pleaded guilty to the felony charge, which had a sentencing range of 180 days to two years in prison.

Jurors in the April trial “indicated that if they had reached a unanimous verdict of guilty, they would have sentenced Johnson to probation,” according to the Travis County DA’s Office.

As part of her probation, Johnson will receive psychological support and counseling services, which was also something the original jurors had wanted, prosecutors wrote.

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