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Newborn found alive in trash; mother is charged

Times Staff Writer

A homeless man searching for cans in a Rancho Cucamonga parking lot Dumpster made a startling find Sunday morning: a 5-pound baby girl.

The newborn was naked, her umbilical cord still attached, and stuffed in a plastic Target bag full of discarded mail. She was not crying. She felt cold -- her body temperature had dropped to 87.5 degrees -- but she was alive.

The man alerted a neighbor, who brought a towel to wrap the baby. Another neighbor called 911 about 8 a.m.

Using mail found in the bag with Baby Jane Doe, investigators soon tracked the newborn to Amber Jimenez, 20, who lived with her mother at a nearby apartment complex in the 8200 block of Vineyard Avenue.

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Jimenez pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court to charges of attempted murder and assault on a child under the age of 8. She was being held on $500,000 bail by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Steven Mitchell.

Jimenez, a part-time student at the University of Phoenix who also worked part time at Living Spaces Furniture in Rancho Cucamonga, apparently had given birth at home less than 12 hours before the baby was found, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Jason Anderson.

The baby’s apparent father -- Jimenez’s former boyfriend -- was aware of the pregnancy, but Jimenez’s mother and other family members were not, Anderson said.

The baby, now known as Baby Jimenez, was taken to Upland’s San Antonio Community Hospital, where she was in stable condition Tuesday and expected to make a full recovery, Anderson said. The baby was in the custody of Child Protective Services, he said, adding that Jimenez was taken to a hospital for examination.

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In California, a safe-surrender law was enacted in 2001 in order to prevent such cases of newborn abandonment. The law allows parents or guardians to drop off unwanted babies within 72 hours of birth at a hospital or fire station without any criminal liability.

“There’s definitely alternatives out there where there are no questions asked,” said San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller.

The homeless man who found the baby asked investigators not to identify him, and Miller said she was not sure if anyone rewarded him for alerting authorities.

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molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com


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