Charges dropped against Vigils

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Court: Santa Fe judge rules there is no probable cause

State District Judge Michael Vigil has ruled that prosecutors lacked evidence to pursue abuse charges against Katrina Vigil and her parents in the September 2010 death of Grey Vigil.

Judge Vigil said Wednesday in a Santa Fe courtroom that there is no probable cause to charge Katrina Vigil, 25, with abuse or neglect in the death of her newborn son who lived just 11 days after being born in her parents’ Los Alamos home.

The judge, who is not related to the Vigils, issued the ruling based on autopsy findings that showed the baby was born with critical brain defects that likely would have resulted in the child’s death regardless of medical care. Additionally, Judge Vigil said he saw no evidence presented that indicated Grey Vigil was abused.

Charges against the baby’s grandparents, Holly J. Vigil and Robert Vigil, were also dropped during the preliminary hearing Wednesday. The amount of media attention the case drew was partially behind the reason for conducting the preliminary hearing as opposed to a closed grand jury.

The infant’s mother and grandparents had been charged with one count of child abuse – negligently causing or permitting (no death or great bodily harm).  The charge is a third-degree felony. If found guilty, the Vigils could have faced punishments of up to three years in state prison.

Unusual circumstances swirled around the case from the outset after it was discovered that Katrina Vigil gave birth to the infant in her parents Barranca Mesa home. There was then a span of about three days that followed before medical attention was sought for the baby, according to police reports.

Grey Vigil lived for 11 days after his Sept. 14, 2010 birth, the last few days of his life spent in the custody of Children, Youth and Families Department.

“Even when Dr. (Ellen) Slaughter first saw the child, she said the child appeared to look normal, as did everyone else who saw the child,” Judge Vigil was quoted in a Santa Fe New Mexican report. “It was only after the tests had begun that the problems with the child were discovered and all of these problems, I’m convinced, would have happened to this child because of the condition of not having a portion of the brain versus any neglect or reckless neglect on the part of Ms. Vigil, so the charge against Ms. Vigil is dismissed.”

An autopsy report filed in July of this year indicated the infant suffered from hydranencephaly, which is a rare condition in which the brain’s cerebral hemispheres are absent and replaced by sacs filled with cerebrospinal fluid, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Katrina Vigil’s attorney, John W. Day of Rothstein, Donatelli, Hughes, Dahlstrom, Schoenburg &  Bienvenu, LLP addressed the autopsy report when it came out.

“The autopsy report essentially shows that the baby was born without a brain,” Day said. “We had maintained all along that this was our position. We didn’t conceal anything or try to hide anything and given the fact that the baby died of natural causes – this closes out this tragic chapter.”

The case took on an added dimension when earlier court documents revealed that Katrina Vigil also had a baby in 2003 under similar circumstances. The Court of Appeals of New Mexico ruling, dated Dec. 5, 2005, states that while alone in her dormitory room at Eastern New Mexico University on Oct. 18, 2003, Vigil gave birth to a baby boy. She said that she did not realize she was pregnant until two months prior to the birth, whereupon she concealed her pregnancy from her family.

The day after giving birth, Katrina took the baby to a park and pretended that she found the baby, according to court documents. Emergency personnel took the baby and placed him in the custody of the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD).

Eventually, Vigil admitted to police that she was the baby’s mother. She had told the birth father, T.J. Allen, that she miscarried and, according to court documents, when she learned that CYFD intended to call T.J., she called him first and told him about the baby.

A nurse at the hospital in Portales eventually adopted the baby. Vigil and her boyfriend later went to court in an attempt to overturn the adoption and get the baby back and, according to court documents, their appeal was denied.