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Woman convicted of using drugs during pregnancy surrenders to police

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 12 2012 12:37 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A woman convicted of taking drugs while pregnant, later giving birth to a drug-addicted baby, turned herself in to authorities Tuesday.

Constance Villa, 25, pleaded guilty in August in Summit County's 3rd District Court to intentional child abuse that resulted in inflicting serious injury, a second-degree felony. As part of her plea deal, three counts of endangering a child, all second-degree felonies were dismissed.

Villa gave birth at Park City Medical Center to a boy on Dec. 14, 2011. After giving birth, she tested positive for cocaine, opiates, marijuana and benzodiazepines or anti-anxiety medication, according to charging documents.

Her son was born underweight at 4 pounds, court documents state. He also tested positive for opiates, marijuana and benzodiazepines, and suffered from respiratory distress, "significant meconium aspiration," and "bilateral pneumothoreces," according to charging documents.

The infant was immediately flown to Primary Children's Medical Center. He was in the intensive care unit for six weeks and was give morphine for his drug withdrawal symptoms, charging documents state.

Doctors noted that the child could suffer "long-term complications" and may have "developmental issues," according to court papers. The child was placed in a foster home.

Villa told social workers she "was a heroin addict and claimed she tried to quit using drugs while she was pregnant but was unable to do so," according to court records.

Shortly after giving birth, Villa left the Park City Hospital and was believed to have left the state. Charges were filed against her in June. She pleaded guilty in August. But on the day of her scheduled sentencing in October, she failed to show up for court and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Salt Lake City police say she turned herself into their department Tuesday night.

Villa's case is similar to charges filed in another Summit County case in November.

Shea Renee Sheeran, 27, was charged in 3rd District Court with child abuse involving intentionally inflicting serious physical injury and child endangerment, both second-degree felonies. Sheeran gave birth to a boy in August. Toxicology tests conducted on both mother and child after the birth showed Sheeran tested positive for methamphetamine, cocaine, amphetamines and opiates, and her son tested positive for amphetamines and opiates, according to charging documents.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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