AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A baby left in a dumpster in the first hours of his life has recovered and is getting ready to celebrate his third birthday.
This is the story of the child's journey out of the dumpster and the mother who left him there.
In July of 2014, a woman named Shonnie Smalley was not aware she was pregnant. On the night she had the baby, she was scared, and in her fear wrapped her newborn son in a towel and left him in a dumpster.
Matthew McClenney, formerly known as 'Baby Brooks,' was discovered when a neighbor was taking out the trash.
They called the paramedics who removed maggots from his eyes and mouth. His heart flat lined three times before he was air lifted to Northwest Texas Hospital.
"They said if he was there 30 minutes longer he would have died," said Tonya McClenney the paternal grandmother of Matthew. "I cried a lot. I mean who can do that?"
After evaluation, experts found Shonnie Smalley was not mentally prepared to bring a child into the world.
"The experts retained by the court said she had the reasoning ability of a 12 or 13 year old," said Randy Sherrod, Smalley's attorney.
By the time Smalley was scheduled to appear in court, her story had gained major public attention. Given the high profile of the case, Smalley opted out of jury trial and pleaded guilty to injury of a child causing serious bodily harm by reckless conduct.
A judge sentenced her to 8 years in prison which her attorney believes is the wrong way to rehabilitate a woman with her mental condition.
"It's a bad deal," said Sherrod. "I'm not trying to say that doing something like this to a child is something you expect people to understand, but when you see the issue she had and the lack of reasoning you understand how something like this could happen."
As for Matthew, he is now being raised by his paternal grandparents.
He has had some medical issues in his childhood but none that directly stem from being abandoned in the dumpster.
Despite having already raised two children, Tonya McClenney said she never hesitated when the opportunity to raise Matthew came along.
"I told my husband from the time we found out, even if he wasn't ours we wanted him," said McClenney. "We were in love with him, and we had never even seen him."
Doctors are not exactly sure what day Matthew was born, but he and his family will celebrate his third birthday on July 12th.
When asked about Smalley, Tonya only said she imagined she was scared and she didn't have to be.
Smalley is currently in the Dalham Hartley County Jail awaiting the appeal of her sentence. Her attorney believes the proper punishment would be probation with counseling and mental health evaluations.
Due to the fact she has no prior record and does not pose a threat to the public, he believes a prison sentence would only set her back.