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Chimayó couple charged in 1-month-old’s death

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A Chimayó couple was charged in the suffocation death of their 1-month-old infant, after the father allegedly placed a pillow over the baby’s head so he wouldn’t be disturbed while he slept.

Steven Serrano Sr., 22, and Athena Savell, 19, were both charged with intentional abuse of a child resulting in death in Rio Arriba Magistrate Court. Serrano was arrested and charged on Thursday. An arrest warrant was issued for Savell on Saturday, but, as of Monday afternoon, online court records didn’t show that she had been served.

Rio Arriba County Sheriff deputies responded to Serrano’s and Savell’s home in Chimayó after a call of an unresponsive baby around 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to affidavits of arrest. Upon arrival, officers found the baby not breathing and immediately began CPR without success. The baby was later pronounced dead at the Presbyterian Española Hospital.

Medical investigators said they noticed bruising on the baby’s face and neck, along with irregularities around the crown of the baby’s head, according to court documents. When officers questioned the couple separately, they reportedly gave inconsistent statements.

Serrano later admitted to putting a pillow over the baby’s head so he could sleep, according to court documents.

“I didn’t mean for that to happen bro,” Serrano told officers. “It’s not a heavy pillow at all.”

The documents state that Savell’s father, Michael Lawhead, arrived at the hospital and argued with his daughter. When officers asked him what the argument was about, he showed them text messages between Savell and another family member, which stated Serrano would hold his hand over the baby’s mouth and would throw him on the bed.

Lawhead told officers family members were worried that Savell was involved with the baby’s death. One of the family members also told investigators that Savell had “anger issues.”

When Savell was questioned about the text messages, she said she didn’t mean to say Serrano was suffocating the baby, just that he would put a blanket over the baby and hope the child would “pass out,” according to court documents.

Savell also said Serrano had anger issues. She said there were times when he got extremely angry and would go outside to punch trees. One time, he punched out the window of a car, she said.

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