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[whitespace] Mother, 18, charged with cruelty and attempted murder

Sunnyvale--The 18-year-old mother who allegedly abandoned her newborn baby girl in Lakewood Park on Sept. 6 was arrested last week for attempted murder and cruelty to a child.

According to police, Tri Minh Hoang left her child in a plastic bag in the park shortly after giving birth to it. She surrendered at the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety on Sept. 23 after the district attorney issued a warrant for her arrest.

Two 10-year-old girls discovered the infant while they were biking through the park. They alerted one of their mothers after hearing muffled cries from the bushes.

Randy Hey, deputy district attorney for Santa Clara County, said the charges carry a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison. He said the attempted murder charges stem from the fact that this case was not an ordinary abandonment.

"You could just abandon your baby and hope somebody picks it up," Hey said, "but in this case there was evidence that she did attempt to kill the baby."

Hey said the district attorney's office receives five or six cases each year of babies who have been abandoned, and in about half of those the child dies. "Unfortunately, this isn't that unusual," Hey said.

"I'm just happy this baby is alive and healthy," he said.

Hey praised a law recently passed in Texas, which allows a mother to give birth in a hospital, receive medical care, and then leave the baby in the care of the hospital for adoption without any questions asked.

While admitting he doesn't usually consider Texas a progressive state, he said he hopes California emulates that law.

"I think it would save a lot of lives," he said.

Hoang posted bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 8.

Leroy Martin, director of family and child services for Santa Clara County, said that the agency will look out for the best interest of the child, who is currently in foster care.

He could not speak specifically about this case, but said the agency generally attempts to reunite a child with its birth mother or another member of the family.

Martin said Tri Minh Hoang's child is probably in what is called a concurrent placement, which is required by federal law. The law mandates that any child under the age of 6 with the potential of not being reunited with its mother will be placed in a foster home where adoption is possible in the event the child cannot be given back to the mother or another relative.

"There are three significant options: adoption, foster care or being placed with its family," Martin said. "Each case is judged on its own merit, but standard procedure is to look at what's in the best interest of the child.

"If the mother is charged and goes to jail, then obviously she won't be available," he said.
Kelly Wilkinson

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