Woman accused of trying to sell baby won’t face prison

Crime is only a gross misdemeanor, prosecutor says

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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A homeless woman accused of trying to sell her newborn son at the Hazel Dell Taco Bell will not face a felony charge because she wasn’t successful with the sale, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors charged Heidi Knowles, also known as Heidi Gasaway, with attempted child selling, a gross misdemeanor, as opposed to child selling, a Class C felony.

The crime is only a felony when the alleged sale is completed, said Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dustin Richardson.

Prosecutors allege that Knowles, 36, approached the woman in the restaurant, handed the newborn to her and offered to sell him for a price between $500 and $5,000, according to court documents.

The woman declined the sale and called 911.

Richardson said since the evidence doesn’t support a charge of child selling, his hands are tied. Still, the deputy prosecutor said: “I really found the behavior to be quite disturbing.”

A gross misdemeanor is punishable by a stay in the county jail and a fine, or both, while felony convictions can result in a prison sentence of a year or more, in addition to a fine.

Knowles was arraigned July 22 in Clark County District Court. A pretrial hearing was set for Aug. 2.

Responding to the 911 call the evening of July 14, deputies found Knowles at Kay’s Motel on Highway 99 with the infant, who appeared to be in good health. They called for officials with Child Protective Services, who took custody of the baby.

Deputies said Knowles appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Deputies declined to reveal the baby’s name and said they didn’t know who the father is.

A no-contact order was issued Monday, barring Knowles from contact with her son, who was born July 11.

She remains in the Clark County Jail on $50,000 bail.