Mother indicted on murder charge in toddler's drowning

An Augusta woman whose 2-year-old son drowned after he wandered outside unattended was indicted on a charge of murder Tuesday.

A Richmond County grand jury issued the indictment against Lisa Stocker. Her son Daniel I. Stocker was found at the bottom of an unused swimming pool in the family’s backyard in the 3800 block of Creighton Place on March 21.

The murder charge is based on an underlying allegation that Stocker committed cruelty to children in the second degree by neglecting the toddler. According to the indictment, Stocker took medication that rendered her unconscious and unable to stop Daniel from leaving the home that morning.

Stocker was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter.

At the time Stocker admitted to investigators that she was asleep “and not attending to the needs of her youngest child.” The child’s father was out of town on business.

She said she became aware of Daniel’s disappearance only after a neighbor alerted her to the family’s dogs running loose in the neighborhood, sheriff’s investigators said.

When the child was first reported missing, about 30 deputies combed the Co­v­ing­ton subdivision off Old Waynes­boro Road looking for him. Police said surveillance video from a neighbor’s home showed the child outside and unattended earlier that morning.

Witnesses in the neighborhood also told deputies they had seen the child in the yard unattended.

After searches in the neighborhood failed, the fire department and dive team were called to search a pool in the backyard of the child’s home and a pool down the street.

The murky, debris-filled conditions of the pool in the toddler’s backyard complicated matters, authorities said.

Crews removed much of the water from the pool before divers were sent back to search through the remaining water and debris. Divers found the child’s body about 12:30 p.m.

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