Crime & Justice

19-year-old waitress to be arraigned for killing newborn daughter

A 19-year-old waitress who allegedly killed her newborn daughter and dumped the body in a trash bin behind the Stanton eatery where she worked will be arraigned today, provided she is well enough.

Juana Perez Valencia of Anaheim had been scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, and again Wednesday in the Central Jail courtroom, but she apparently was still not well enough to make the hearing following the birth of her daughter.

Prosecutors plan to ask that Valencia's bail remain at $1 million, said Orange County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Susan Kang Schroeder.

Schroeder said she could not discuss the reason for the delay, but the defendant was hospitalized after giving birth. Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino said Tuesday she was still being cared for by doctors and wasn't well enough to make the arraignment.

Investigators believe Valencia delivered the baby Dec. 22 in the restroom of Sombrero's. The body of the infant, who was born alive, was found about 7 p.m. Wednesday in the trash bin next to the Mexican restaurant, where Valencia worked as a food server.

Valencia is accused of killing the baby – authorities are not saying how – and then stuffing the newborn in a plastic bag and tossing it in the Dumpster, Schroeder said.

Valencia sought treatment Dec. 23 at West Anaheim Medical Center and repeatedly denied having just given birth, prompting suspicious staffers to call authorities, Amormino said.

Valencia faces up to 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.

Authorities said killings such as the one attributed to Valencia are hard to explain, given that California's "safe surrender" law allows parents or people with lawful custody to turn over an unwanted infant to fire stations and hospitals within 72 hours of birth – no questions asked.