Judge: Alexis Avila’s trial won’t be moved

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HOBBS, N.M. — A judge denied a request to change where a 19-year-old Hobbs mother will go on trial for allegedly throwing her baby in a dumpster.

Alexis Avila’s attorneys filed to have the trial in Lincoln County, instead of Lea County where the alleged incident happened.

Avila’s attorneys argued “presumed prejudice” arose from the publicity of the case, including news coverage and proposed “baby boxes” legislation.

The attorneys said 102 of 280 jury questionnaire respondents indicated prejudice, while 47 indicated they would be impartial. Officials sent the questionnaire before the December 2022 trial setting, asking about jurors’ opinions on Avila’s innocence and what they heard about the case.

However, Fifth Judicial District Judge William G.W. Shoobridge ruled coverage never went beyond “a recitation of facts” and was in a timeframe that wouldn’t raise prejudice. He also ruled the evidence, statements and stories presented didn’t pose presumed prejudice.

The judge also said preliminary examinations of prospective jurors will ultimately uncover any actual prejudice. If the court can’t seat an impartial jury afterward, the judge says her attorneys can re-file for a venue change.

Avila’s trial will start April 11.