An Oklahoma mother has reportedly been convicted of felony child neglect for leaving her 5-month-old baby girl in a hot vehicle for over two hours while she got her nails done.
Adele Gonzales, 37, claims she didn’t know her now-deceased baby was in her SUV on Aug. 29, 2015, when she and her teenage daughter sat in the air-conditioned nail salon, The Oklahoman reported.
Her baby, Ashanti Hunt, was pronounced dead at a hospital later that afternoon after coming in unresponsive and “very hot” to the touch, according to the Associated Press. Emergency responders in Del City said the baby’s core body temperature reached 100 degrees, causing her death.
Gonzales — who is also a mother to three other children — was convicted Thursday by an Oklahoma County jury and sentenced to 18 months in prison, The Oklahoman reported. She had faced life in prison.
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During the trial, Gonzales testified that it was her then 16-year-old daughter Atavia Robinson who put Ashanti in the car, The Oklahoman reported. Robinson had allegedly asked Gonzales if they were bringing the baby with them to the salon while her mother was talking on the phone, interpreting a nod to mean “Yes.” She then placed the baby in the car, behind the driver’s seat. Gonzales said she left the house assuming the baby was in another room.
Robinson, now 18, told jurors she had forgot she put Ashanti in the vehicle, The Oklahoman reported. The infant was asleep, she claimed, and not making any noise. It was only after the returned home from the salon that their realized the baby was in the vehicle, prosecutors said.
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Defense attorney Perry Hudson argued Gonzales was distracted when she was asked about bringing Ashanti by Robinson, The Oklahoman reported, and that Robinson forgot about the baby in the excitement to get her nails done. But prosecutors slammed the mother for leaving the house “knowing she never laid eyes on her child” and didn’t check in with her three younger children — all girls under the age of 12 — who were at the house while she was at the salon.
After the sentencing, Hudson consoled Gonzales’ family outside the courtroom, telling The Oklahoman he was “terribly disappointed” by the jury’s decision for a crime he claimed in court was a “tragic accident, not a crime.”
Assistant District Attorney Lori McConnell argued in her closing argument’s that Ashanti’s death was “a tragedy” that that jurors shouldn’t “confuse that with an accident.”