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Jailed grandmother has multiple criminal defense options

News stories of hot-car deaths often come in the summer months, but a Georgia grandmother was recently taken into custody for the tragic car-related death of her young grandson. Police say that she has cooperated with them so far, but there has been little to no word of her criminal defense plans yet. She is currently still behind bars on a $100,000 bond.

The incident allegedly began when the 47-year-old grandmother went to visit some friends. At the time she was caring for her 13-month-old grandson, who had fallen asleep in the car prior to arriving at a friend's home. Police claim that the grandmother said that she was worried about waking the boy and opted to leave him in the car. Both the car's engine and heater were on and running when she went inside.

Investigators say that the grandmother remained inside the home for approximately five hours, during which time she neglected to check on the boy despite encouragement to do so from friends. When she did return to the vehicle the boy was unresponsive. Although it had not been terribly hot that day, police believe that the car's heater combined with sunlight that entered through the windows made the inside of the car an uncomfortable 100 degrees, leading to hyperthermia in the toddler.

In 2014, the state legislature passed a law that allowed officers to charge adults believed to be responsible for hot-car deaths with murder. Prior to this law, adults could at most face involuntary manslaughter which, while still considerable, does not pose the same severe consequences upon a conviction. It is possible that strong emotions helped lead to this law, but strong emotions should not play a role in the criminal court proceedings of any defendant accused a crime. Each and every defendant in Georgia has the right to build and proceed with a criminal defense that they believe will achieve the best outcome possible, during which their rights and protections as a human being are still protected by law.

Source: wsbtv.com, "Baby dies after being left in car 5 hours", Rhonda Cook, Jan. 16, 2016

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