Safe Haven Could Have Prevented Attempted Murder Trial

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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December 10, 2010

Law enforcement says new developments in the case of a baby left in a trash dumpster are serving as a reminder of why the Safe Haven law is in place. Officers say the Emporia case is a classic example of what the law is supposed to prevent.

The investigation started in October after Christina Devine admitted to leaving her baby in a dumpster. Yesterday, a judge ruled she will go to trial for attempted murder, and today, law enforcement is speaking out about how all of it could have been prevented.

"It's really a safety mechanism where, when they get to a point where they find out that they can't take care of that child, they're left alone with that baby, they don't have to resort to some sort of violence," said Sedgwick County Sheriff's Sgt. Amy Osburn.

That safety mechanism is called the Safe Haven law. It states a parent can surrender custody of an infant 45-days-old or younger, no questions asked, if the infant is in good health. Authorities say parents often use the law in Sedgwick County hospitals, as they see cases several times a month, where parents leave babies after giving birth.

"Sometimes that is absolutely the best option as opposed to some other options that that parent may choose to do. So that's not neglectful, that would be the more responsible option," said Osburn.

It's an option that probably would have kept Devine out of jail, as there are no legal consequences for utilizing it. The Safe Haven law requires parents leave the infant at a hospital, law enforcement agency, fire department, or health department.

Officers say there are cases where the mother and child are reunited once she resolves the issues preventing her from being a parent.

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