Judge orders Omaha teen who threw baby out window to serve probation, live in group home

By Emily Nitcher / World-Herald staff writer
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OMAHA, Neb. - A teenager who threw her newborn baby out the window needs to start getting therapy, a judge said Friday, and she isn’t getting it while in a youth center.

Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge Christopher Kelly ordered Antonia Lopez to be placed on probation, live in an Omaha group home, take part in individual and family therapy, delete her Facebook account and perform 50 hours of community service.

The judge added that he wasn’t sure anyone ever puts such an incident behind them.

Lopez, 16, gave birth in the early hours of Sept. 30 at her apartment in the Kellom Knolls complex near 25th Avenue and Cuming Street. After throwing the baby out a second-floor window, Lopez told her mother what she had done.

Lopez initially was charged as an adult with one count of felony child abuse resulting in death. She faced 20 years to life in prison if convicted.

In February, the case was transferred to juvenile court, and Lopez admitted to the crime. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said then that his office agreed to move the case from district court after weighing the teenager’s mental state, actions and lack of criminal record.

Lopez’s defense attorney, Rebecca McClung, said in court Friday that Lopez had only a theft charge on her record.

Deputy Douglas County Attorney Jennifer Chrystal-Clark asked that Lopez be placed in a group home in part because of comments Lopez made that prompted concerns that she didn’t understand the severity of her actions. There also were concerns about her family not understanding the severity of what happened.

McClung rejected the idea that Lopez didn’t understand what she had done. She said that when Lopez was charged as an adult, she faced decades in prison.

“To say she doesn’t understand is disingenuous,” she said. “She understands.” She noted that Lopez had thought the baby was stillborn.

“She’s coping the best she can,” McClung said. “The mother is coping the best she can. The grandmother is coping the best she can.”

Kelly ordered that Lopez’s Facebook account be deleted because since her arrest, thousands of negative comments from people around the country have been left on her page.

Lopez will remain incarcerated until she’s placed in a group home. So far, officials have had problems finding a group home willing to take Lopez because many see her as a risk, Chrystal-Clark said.

McClung said her client is not a risk.

Lopez did not speak during Friday’s hearing. McClung declined to speak with reporters afterward.

Kleine said Lopez’s probation is open-ended, so if the judge decides, probation could continue until Lopez turns 19. Lopez turns 17 in June.

Police have said that after Lopez threw the baby outside, her mother found the baby and, “distraught and frantic,” called 911 at 4:12 a.m. She performed CPR on the baby until paramedics and police arrived.

The baby and Lopez were taken to Creighton University Medical Center, where the baby was pronounced dead upon arrival.

The child was about 14 inches long and weighed 2 pounds.

An autopsy later determined that Lopez had been pregnant for 25 to 28 weeks — about the seventh month of gestation.

In a Snapchat message to her boyfriend, Lopez wrote, “It was a girl by the way.”

The autopsy revealed that the baby suffered bleeding near her skull, brain, spine and abdomen. The pathologist told police that the bleeding indicated that there was a heartbeat — the baby was alive when the blunt-force injuries were sustained.

Lopez told a police detective that she had not known she was pregnant and woke up in pain. She said she laid a towel on the floor of her bedroom because she thought she was having her period. Lopez’s boyfriend disputed her assertion that she didn’t know she was pregnant. An Omaha police officer said the boyfriend told him that he had urged Lopez to tell her mother about the pregnancy and see a doctor, but she didn’t.

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