Wade Naramore, a respected judge in Garland County, Arkansas, saw his judicial career come to a sudden halt last year, after he forgot to take his 17-month-old son Thomas out of a car seat in the back seat of his vehicle, which he parked for between four and five hours on a July day in Hot Springs, Arkansas, when the mercury soared upward of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a report in The Arkansas Times.
After a five-day trial on charges of negligent homicide, however, the 36-year-old Naramore was found not guilty by a 12-person jury in Garland County, a jury decision that according to a KNWA TV News report, provoked anger in the Hot Springs community — and of course, online.
Unless your wade naramore juvenile judge, white southern privilege, he’s the VICTUM cuz he cooked his kid to death pic.twitter.com/qhPyviAAu0
— Serenityblue, (@serenalburg) August 14, 2016
It was July 24 of 2015 when Naramore, who had been elected to the Garland County bench just nine months earlier after serving as a deputy prosecutor in the county, set out at about 8 a.m. in the morning to drop little Thomas at daycare and then proceed on to work where on that day he was facing “a court case he was worried about,” according to his interview with police, reported by Arkansas Online.
He left work early that afternoon, about five hours after arriving, intending to run errands and then pick up Thomas from daycare before returning home. But at some point, he noticed that the toddler was still in the back seat of the vehicle — and had been there the whole time.
— KATV News (@KATVNews) August 20, 2016
But it wasn’t until six months later that Wade Naramore was arrested and charged with negligent homicide, a Class A misdemeanor that carried a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Naramore was also suspended from his duties as a Garland County judge — a suspension that remained in place even after the jury verdict acquitting Naramore.
The following video from The Arkansas Herald covers the reaction to the jury’s not guilty verdict in the Wade Naramore hot car negligent homicide case.
Naramore took the stand in his own defense on Friday, at the climax of his trial, claiming that he only remembered “bits and pieces” of the traumatic day that his toddler son died inside the hot car, according to a KATV News report.
Naramore’s cell phone, wallet, and watch were later recovered from inside a bathroom in a neighbor’s home, but the judge testified that he had no recollection of how they got there. He also broke down in tears when shown pictures of his boy.
A sister-in-law of Naramore also testified, saying that Naramore often experienced traumatic flashbacks to that day last year and would sometimes wake up screaming in the middle of the night.
The woman also testified that she once forgot that her own child was in the back seat, seeing the child there only when she went to grab a bag from the back of the car.
— AR Democrat-Gazette (@ArkansasOnline) August 25, 2016
A heartbreaking total of 28 children have died in hot cars already in 2016, and more than 35 every year die in the same horrifying fashion, on average.
Experts recommend that parents keep their cell phones in the back seat, forcing them to check back there before leaving their cars — preventing the possibility that they might forget that a child is back there.
Parents who insist that they would be incapable of forgetting a child in a car actually increase their risk of doing so, according to the parenting site Romper.
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But that did not stop an outpouring of anger over the not guilty verdict for Wade Naramore.
“Every time he goes downtown every time people see him most of us are going to look at him and think you killed your child and the only reason you aren’t in jail right now is because you have friends in high places,” Hot Springs resident Timothy Saveall told KNWA.
Wade Naramore remains suspended from his position as a judge, as the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission continues its own investigation into the hot car death of his son.
.[Images via Garland County, Gross Funeral Home]