A Houston County jury returned a guilty verdict on Wednesday afternoon against a Dothan woman for felony aggravated child abuse, which involved the consumption of alcohol by an infant from its baby bottle.
Assistant Houston County District Attorney Banks Smith said the jury returned with its guilty verdict after two hours of deliberation, convicting 26-year-old Angelica Hawkins.
Smith said the jury also had two misdemeanors charges from which to choose, which included third-degree assault and child endangerment.
Smith said Hawkins faces two to 20 years in prison at sentencing for the class B felony of aggravated child abuse. Circuit Court Judge Butch Binford will sentence Hawkins on June 19. She will remain released on her original bail until sentencing.
Dothan police originally arrested Hawkins on Nov. 3, 2012.
Dothan police investigators charged Hawkins and Hawkins’ 16-year-old cousin with felony aggravated child abuse after discovering an infant had consumed alcohol.
Police first got involved after responding to Southeast Alabama Medical Center on the evening of Nov. 2. Once at the hospital, police found an 8 pound, 7-week-old infant had been given an alcoholic beverage to the point that its blood alcohol content (BAC) level measured .386. A person is considered legally intoxicated in Alabama when his or her BAC reaches .08.
Attorney Mark Overall, who represented Hawkins in court, repeatedly questioned why police arrested his client, calling the offense an accident.
Overall said his client saw the water bottle and assumed it had water inside it before mixing it in the baby’s bottle.
“She is not a criminal. She is not a felon,” Overall said. “She is a person who made a mistake.”
Overall said once his client and the child’s mother realized it was alcohol, they called 911 and then drove the baby to the hospital.
Smith told the jury during his closing arguments that they were hearing the case because a 7-week old baby almost died.
“Officers told you the smell of alcohol from that bottle was overwhelming,” Smith said. “The science in this case does not match the stories given by these women.”
Smith argued that the doctors, who testified during the trial, said one or two sips from the bottle couldn’t have resulted in such a high blood alcohol level.
“You heard the doctors say this was a near fatal event,” Smith said. “Somebody gave that baby alcohol in order for everybody to be able to sleep.”
Smith said there is no dispute who fixed and mixed the baby’s bottle, the defendant, but then she handed it to the child’s mother.
Hawkins testified in her own defense.
“Let me be clear, she fixed the bottle, but she didn’t give the bottle to the baby. The last line of defense falls to the mother,” Overall said. “Parenting and counseling that may be needed, but a felony conviction, no. They’re asking you to label this woman a felon for an unforeseen mistake.”