A Kensington, Georgia, woman faces a second-degree murder charge for the death of her grandson in a hot car.
Barbara Michelle Pemberton, 47, left her 13-month-old grandson inside her vehicle on Jan. 12 with the engine running and the heater on for about five hours while she visited friends in Rossville, Georgia.
The temperature reached about 100 degrees inside the vehicle, according to investigators. The outside temperature was about 52 degrees, and the car was left in direct sunlight, Northwest Georgia News reported.
When Pemberton returned to the vehicle at around 4:20 p.m., the infant, Shadoe Braxton Pate, was unresponsive, according to Times Free Press.
CPR was performed on Shadoe by Pemberton and her friends, and paramedics were called to the scene. Shadoe was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
An autopsy revealed Shadoe died from hyperthermia, of which heatstroke is the most severe form.
“It is a very unfortunate, tragic event here with this child dying,” Sheriff Steve Wilson said, according to Northwest Georgia News. “An autopsy was conducted today (Jan. 14) at the Georgia Bureau of Investigations crime lab in Decatur and the initial findings of the autopsy are that the child died of hyperthermia from extended and elevated long-term exposure to heat. That is the preliminary we have at this time. Obviously, additional testing will take much longer and we expect to have a full report in six to eight weeks.”
Pemberton said she did not realize how much time had passed since she left the child unattended in the car.
"The time got away from her," Wilson said, according to the Times Free Press. "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]."
Shadoe was in Pemberton’s care, as was usual, when his mother had to work. She and Shadoe’s mother, her daughter-in-law, met for breakfast the morning of his death. He was reportedly asleep when Pemberton arrived at her friend’s home.
There is no evidence that points to Pemberton or any of her friends being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but she was still tested. The results are expected within six to eight weeks.
Investigators believe Pemberton may have looked out a window of the home, but there is no evidence that displays she ever went to the car to check on his well-being in over five hours, reported Northwest Georgia News.
“…The car was about 35 to 50 yards from the home,” Wilson said, according to Times Free Press. “We can’t fathom how she could have checked on the child, even visual, much less physically looked in on the child. I think it is obvious that, for whatever reason, she chose not to go back and check on him, which is difficult to understand and comprehend.”
Pemberton faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to children. If convicted, she could spend 10 to 30 years in prison, Times Free Press reported.