An Escondido woman who left her day-old child in a minister’s car was sentenced Wednesday to three years’ probation.
Jodie Marie Edwards, 32, also was ordered by Municipal Court Judge William Draper in Vista to continue receiving counseling.
Mrs. Edwards, the mother of four other children, pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor child abandonment and could have received one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
According to relatives and court officials, Mrs. Edwards left her daughter in a car belonging to the Rev. Charles Keturakat outside Palomar Memorial Hospital on Dec. 26.
She had hidden her pregnancy from her family and friends because of financial difficulties. No one knew she had delivered the child at home on Christmas Day while her husband, Bob, and her other children opened Christmas presents.
When the infant’s umbilical cord began to bleed, however, Mrs. Edwards took the child to the hospital for treatment. As she walked through the hospital parking lot, she saw Keturakat’s car, which was marked clergy and had a child seat in the back, according to Edwards.
She made a spur-of-the-moment decision to place the child in the car, Edwards said.
The child was placed in a foster home under the supervision of the County Department of Child Protective Services. Three weeks later, a Juvenile Court judge returned the child to Bob Edwards, after he convinced the court that he knew nothing about his wife’s pregnancy or the child’s abandonment.
Social workers who have observed the family say it is likely Mrs. Edwards will regain formal custody of her child at a hearing May 6, according to court records. Draper set a counseling review hearing for Oct. 22.