Leaving a child inside a hot car is a crime in most states. Mollie Shouse may be the first person in Kentucky convicted of murder for doing it.
Last year Shouse's son, Kenton Brown, died when he was left in a car for several hours during the summer. He was two years old. His mom was inside the house at the time, passed out on Xanax and marijuana.
Given her actions, it's hard to argue that Shouse wasn't negligent towards her son. But to find her guilty of wanton murder, the jury needed something more.
They convicted her because she showed "an indifference for human life," according to juror Stephen Jones.
To prove a charge of murder prosecutors must show that the defendant either killed intentionally or recklessly. Legal recklessness means the defendant didn't care about the danger their actions posed to others even though the risks were obvious and serious.
The 'wanton' piece of the charge means that Shouse did not act with premeditation in the eyes of the jury. She was the cause of Kenton's death but did not do it intentionally.
In this case, Shouse failed to take the time necessary to unstrap her son from his car seat before she went inside to get high. Her son was found hours later by neighbors who tried unsuccessfully to revive him, reports the New York Daily News.
Shouse's irresponsible behavior is likely what led the jury to convict her of murder. They also recommended a sentence of 35 years to the judge.
While murder in Kentucky can potentially receive the death penalty, the judge is now by bound by the jury's upper limit.
Mollie Shouse now joins only a handful of people who have been convicted of murder for leaving a child inside a hot car, reports The Courier-Journal. Cases that do result in conviction generally include drugs or alcohol.
- Jury recommends 35 years in prison for Mollie Shouse(WDRB)
- Neglect (FindLaw's LawBrain)
- Baby Dies in Hot Car, Young Father Arrested (FindLaw's Blotter)