Central Valley

Hearing today in newborn's death in Turlock

A judge is expected to decide today whether a Turlock woman accused of leaving her newborn in a Dumpster will face trial on a charge of murder.

The preliminary hearing for Jessica Mae Betts, 20, was set to begin Dec. 15 but was postponed after Betts was diagnosed with an ear infection.

"We wouldn't want to proceed with the preliminary hearing if there is some possibility she can't hear," prosecutor Annette Rees said.

Betts was charged with first-degree murder after her newborn girl was found in a trash bin in Turlock last year.

Betts told police she delivered a baby in the bathroom of her boyfriend's house in Turlock on Nov. 8, 2008. She said she wrapped the newborn in a pair of purple sweat pants and a towel, and drove to a supermarket, where she cried as her baby's breathing slowed and then stopped, according to search warrant documents.

Betts told detectives she didn't know how the newborn got into the Dumpster. A coroner's report lists the cause of death for the baby, named Maria Mae Betts, as "asphyxiation by suffocation."

The infant was found in a Dumpster at the Save Mart parking lot in the 1600 block of Lander Avenue.

Betts has pleaded not guilty. She remains in custody with bail set at $1 million.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

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