Mother of newborn left in car to face possible indictment

The criminal case against a young Augusta mother accused of leaving her newborn inside her vehicle while she took a final exam was bound over to the grand jury Thursday.

Richmond County Civil and Magistrate Court Presiding Judge H. Scott Allen made that ruling at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing for 20-year-old Alicia Manigault.

Manigault has been in jail since June 19 when her 14-day-old son was found strapped in his car seat in the cargo area of her SUV which was parked at Virginia College.

Sheriff’s Investigator Darrell Turner testified Thursday that a security guard working at the school spotted the baby about 8:30 a.m. that morning and called 911. The temperature at 8 a.m. was 72 and by 9 a.m. it was 78 degrees, he said.

All of the windows of the locked Toyota 4-Runner were down an inch or two and the sunroof was fully open, Turner said. Deputy Jacob Green was able to crawl through the sunroof to reach the baby.

The infant was taken to the hospital. The physician who examined him reported the baby suffered no physical distress from his time in the car, Turner testified.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Tanya Jeffords brought out that Manigault was in a tight spot that morning. If she missed another day of school she would be expelled. The baby’s father had just started a new job that morning and Manigault’s mother – who was going to watch the baby – had a doctor’s appointment.

Manigault made a terrible decision, but she lacked any intention to harm her baby, Jeffords said. She only intended to leave the baby during a 20-minute exam, she said.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Homlar countered the baby was in the vehicle for about 40 minutes and that intent wasn’t necessary for the crime Manigault faces – cruelty to children in the second degree.

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