A Davenport woman on Friday entered an Alford plea to charges that she tried to flush her newborn baby boy down a toilet and then discarded him in a trash can at University Hospitals, Iowa City, last year.
Ashley Rose Hautzenrader, 24, who faced the more serious charge of attempted murder, entered pleas to neglect or abandonment of a dependent person and child endangerment during a hearing lasting less than 40 minutes in Johnson County District Court.
In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but concedes that prosecutors have enough evidence to win a conviction at trial.
A sentencing date has not yet been set, but District Court Judge Marsha Bergan suggested that the hearing take place on Sept. 1.
Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said during the plea hearing that she will recommend prison time for Hautzenrader.
Neglect or abandonment of a dependent person is a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Child endangerment is an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison.
Hautzenrader remains free on bond.
Her trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Police say Hautzenrader entered a bathroom in the Colloton Pavillion at University Hospitals about 9:24 p.m. May 8, 2016, and delivered a baby boy into the toilet.
She told officers she didn’t know she was pregnant before entering the bathroom, according to police. The newborn was not crying, Hautzenrader told officers, leading her to think the child was dead.
She attempted to flush it down the toilet and then placed him into a pillow case and put him in a trash can, according to police. She then cleaned the bathroom and left, according to police.
Hospital employees later found the baby alive in the trash.
Officers confronted Hautzenrader, who admitted to putting the child in the trash can, according to police.
During questioning from the judge Friday, Hautzenrader admitted that she did not alert anyone after she placed the baby into the trash can. She also admitted that she did not voluntarily turn over the baby under Iowa's Safe Haven law, which allows a parent or parental representative to turn over a newborn up to 2 weeks old to any hospital or health care facility, no questions asked.