A 13-month-old baby, Shadoe Braxton Pate, died of heat stroke on a cold January day in Georgia after his grandmother allegedly left him in a vehicle with the heat on for five hours so she could chat with friends. The grandmother, 47-year-old Barbara Michelle Pemberton, has been charged with second-degree murder and child cruelty following the incident.
The Times Free Press reports that the grandmother was watching the baby boy for her son as the baby’s mother was at work. The grandmother took the baby in her Ford Focus to a friend’s house; however, when she arrived at the home, the baby was asleep. Instead of waking the child, Pemberton says she left the baby in the car with the heat on so he wouldn’t get cold. She then went inside to visit her friends. The grandmother says the “time got away from her” and before long she had been chatting for five hours without ever checking on the baby.
— Ladder to Success (@weareclimbing) January 16, 2016
When Pemberton finally returned to the vehicle, the baby was dead and the group of friends performed CPR on the baby. However, it was too late. The autopsy revealed that Shadoe died of hyperthermia as temperatures in the vehicle likely reached 100 degrees before the grandmother returned to check on the child. The investigators note that despite it being a cold January day, the temperatures inside of the vehicle soared as the heat continued to blast on the child and the sun poured through the vehicle’s window.
According to the Daily Mail, the friends that Pemberton was visiting with claim they suggested on numerous occasions for the woman to check on her grandson. However, the women say that Pemberton never heeded their advice. Instead, the friends kept chatting and time continued to pass while the child was shut away in the sweltering heat of the car.
Sheriff Steve Wilson notes that Pemberton has given no reasonable explanation for why she didn’t check on the child when her friends suggested it. Instead, he says there seems to be no reason. Therefore, the grandmother has been charged with second-degree murder and child endangerment.
“The time got away from her. At the same time, the people she was visiting indicated that they prodded her two or three times to go check on the child. There’s not been a reasonable explanation [for ignoring that advice].”
The sheriff did not say why none of the women went to check on the child knowing that he was in the vehicle or if any of the other women will be charged as an accessory in the child abuse as none of them took the initiative to check on the child. The sheriff did note that there is no evidence that alcohol or illegal drugs played a role in the baby’s death. However, he says blood samples were drawn from all of those involved.
— Belinda (@JohnnyBelinda1) January 17, 2016
The charges filed against Pemberton are new to the Georgia law books. In fact, they were just added in 2014. The second-degree murder charge occurs when a cruelty-to-children offense leads to death, regardless of whether the killer meant to cause harm. If convicted, Pemberton would face 10-to-30 years in prison for her negligence.
Do you think the friends of Barbara Pemberton should also be held liable for not checking on the child? If they knowingly allowed a child to remain alone in a closed vehicle for five hours, are they also at fault? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
[Image via Walker County Sheriff’s Office/Mugshot]