Mom gets 5 years for infant's death in hot car

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Lisa Morris needs to be a lesson to others, Judge Michael N. Annis said Tuesday.

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A friend of Lisa Morris hugs her after hearing the sentence of five years for manslaughter in Richmond County Superior Court.  Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
A friend of Lisa Morris hugs her after hearing the sentence of five years for manslaughter in Richmond County Superior Court.

The extraordinary neglectful act of leaving a child in a vehicle can result not only in the horror of losing a child but in a prison sentence as well, Judge Annis said in sentencing Ms. Morris to five years in prison followed by five years' probation.

On Aug. 7, 2008, Ms. Morris and a cousin returned to her Patrick Avenue home after taking 6-week-old Dalton Morris to a doctor's appointment and running errands. Ms. Morris thought her cousin brought Dalton inside, but the infant sat in the vehicle as the temperature inside reached an estimated 119 to 126 degrees, said Assistant District Attorney Johnny Markwalter.

Ms. Morris was indicted in Richmond County Superior Court on a charge of felony murder. In a plea negotiation, the charge was reduced to involuntary manslaughter.

Ms. Morris, 26, begged the judge not to send her to prison for the sake of her 5-year-old daughter. The weeks that she spent in jail before bond was granted nearly crushed the little girl, Ms. Morris said. If she was separated again, she feared the girl's spirit would be broken, she told the judge.

Assistant Public Defender Brian Grantham asked the judge for probation. Sending Ms. Morris to prison would only serve the purpose of punishment. There was no greater punishment than the loss of her child, he said. It was a terribly tragic accident, he said.

Judge Annis agreed there was no greater punishment than the loss of a child, but Dalton's death was avoidable, he said.

There's a need to deter others from the same negligence, he said.

Ms. Morris wailed, grief-stricken upon hearing the sentence. Her family members and friends also cried and tried to comfort her.

Mr. Grantham implored Judge Annis to reconsider. He pointed to the punishment given to Christine Long for "torturing her kids for 18 years" -- weekends in the Burke County jail. The sentence was given by a different judge, but it was in the same judicial circuit, Mr. Grantham said.

Judge Annis stuck by his sentencing. He reminded Mr. Grantham that Ms. Morris does have the right to ask for reconsideration at a later date.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

A CRIME TOO COMMON

A study published in Pediatrics recently reported 29 deaths of infants left inside hot vehicles so far this year in the United States.

The study by the Department of Geosciences of San Francisco State University found that since 1998 a total of 441 children have died after being left in vehicles.

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NEone
6
Points
NEone 09/02/09 - 03:44 am
0
0
I'm very sorry for the

I'm very sorry for the needless death of this child. But this was an accident. She didn't intentionally kill the baby, it was miscommunication. So the message is clear: Don't ever forget anything or you might go to prison. I hope she appeals.

1941
4
Points
1941 09/02/09 - 05:29 am
0
0
She should have gotten at

She should have gotten at least twenty years. What is five years? I guess it is what these people are getting, when they kill thier child, after they bring them into the world.Diffrent justice for diffrent people.

blazestr
0
Points
blazestr 09/02/09 - 06:06 am
0
0
How do you accidently forget

How do you accidently forget your 6week old child in the car for about an hour???? I'm curious to how she thought her cusin had the child, I'm sure they came inside together and talked and neither of them noticed the child was not around? She got what she deserved.

andywarhol
0
Points
andywarhol 09/02/09 - 06:55 am
0
0
The death probably saved this

The death probably saved this child from a lifetime of pain and neglect.

justus4
124
Points
justus4 09/02/09 - 07:08 am
0
0
Why was the defense argument
Unpublished

Why was the defense argument based on EMPATHY? What secret did the defense think would sway the judge? The story focuses on the individual rather than the serious crime, which remains a question. The sentence was appropiate.

2tired2argueanymore
1
Points
2tired2argueanymore 09/02/09 - 07:27 am
0
0
Not that I think she should

Not that I think she should not have gone to jail but it makes you wonder how other people can kill someone in a drunk driving incident and never set foot in a jail. Or how about running in a river and leaving your girl friend to die while you go home and sleep it off.

wise
1
Points
wise 09/02/09 - 07:32 am
0
0
Very sad case. I just wanted

Very sad case. I just wanted to mention that the Mother looks just like the woman stealing electronics in target from the video that was in the chronicle. I will try to find the link.

Jonas
0
Points
Jonas 09/02/09 - 07:38 am
0
0
About time!! I work for DFCS

About time!! I work for DFCS and this happens way more than it should. Let this be a lesson to them all!!!!

pah4r
0
Points
pah4r 09/02/09 - 08:07 am
0
0
5 years for neglect, BUT A

5 years for neglect, BUT A PADDED CELL AND THE LUXURIES OF HOME LIFE FOR THE WILLFUL, INTENTIONAL MURDER OF YOUR CHILDREN. Oh, that's right she didn't know what she was going to do when she returned from Atlanta, went home got a knife, and marched her children into the restroom to slaughter them. JUSTICE AT IT'S FINEST.

ispy4u
0
Points
ispy4u 09/02/09 - 08:15 am
0
0
If you do not know the

If you do not know the difference between being mentally ill and willful neglect, that is your personal problem.

cp44
23
Points
cp44 09/02/09 - 08:28 am
0
0
My prayers go to this family

My prayers go to this family for the loss of their child. I cannot understand giving someone else (cousin) the responsibility to tend for a six week old child. Within seconds the mother should have noticed the missing of her child (in the car). This is a good lesson for ALL! Even us that have six and seven year old children. It can be so easy to run into the store to grab one thing....thirty minutes later the car is over 100 degrees.

astheworldturns
30
Points
astheworldturns 09/02/09 - 08:44 am
0
0
5 years.......what a freakin

5 years.......what a freakin joke...a child is dead because she FORGOT?How do u forget u gave birth 6 weeks ago????SHE SHOULD NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY AGAIN!

cp44
23
Points
cp44 09/02/09 - 08:46 am
0
0
AMEN to "astheworldturns"!!

AMEN to "astheworldturns"!!

Roeschen
1
Points
Roeschen 09/02/09 - 08:53 am
0
0
How do you forget a child -

How do you forget a child - any child. I don't care WHO you think MIGHT be doing WHAT. The parents are ultimately responsible for the care of the child. To forget the child is unforgiveable - 5 years is not enough. Her child got a life sentence. I'm glad she has to live with herself. Too bad I wasn't the judge.

jshiver15
0
Points
jshiver15 09/02/09 - 08:55 am
0
0
You're right, she's such a

You're right, she's such a violent criminal. She she be hung from the gallows. Give me a freaking break, people. She made a huge mistake and the sentence is appropriate. Attempting to make her into a monster is pathetic on your part.

leoswife
0
Points
leoswife 09/02/09 - 08:58 am
0
0
Every parent of a child who

Every parent of a child who dies riding a four wheeler/mule etc. without helmets or improperly should be convicted. Every parent whose child has drowned in a backyard pool should be convicted. Every parent who has run over their own child in their own driveway should be convicted. Accidents happen but there is a certain degree of culpability when it comes to the deaths of children when negligence is involved. I feel sorry for this mother, but, in an hours time with an infant she should have noticed that the child was missing. You have to take the baby out of the car seat, check the diaper, lay the child in a crib or somewhere? What was she thinking? It was her child and not her cousin's responsibiltiy. The woman in Burke County with the 11 children should be put away for life. There is no rhyme or reason to our justice system sometimes. Poor baby!

fastz28girl
7
Points
fastz28girl 09/02/09 - 08:58 am
0
0
Perhaps her sitting in jail

Perhaps her sitting in jail for 5 years will improve her memory..More than likely she will only serve half of that term ...In addition she will be allowed to improve her education, perhaps even get a degree, that is usually how the system works...

emergencyfan
0
Points
emergencyfan 09/02/09 - 08:58 am
0
0
Is the purpose of prison

Is the purpose of prison punishment or rehabilitation?

Safe at Home
0
Points
Safe at Home 09/02/09 - 09:18 am
0
0
Maybe while she is in

Maybe while she is in prison... her family can forget her. How would she feel if nobody visited her in prison. Yet how could she complain... she did not think to even check on her small baby baking in a hot car. Yet where she is going she will not die... eventually she will get out....her baby never had a release date.

themaninthemirror
0
Points
themaninthemirror 09/02/09 - 09:25 am
0
0
Although the sentence is

Although the sentence is appropriate, it is not ocnsistent with what has been handed down in similar cases in Richmond County. But the fact remains that this young lady was negligent in her actions concerning her child. The other two women that come to mind will receive their apporpriate sentence on judgement day.

Louis
0
Points
Louis 09/02/09 - 09:33 am
0
0
This was an accident,

This was an accident, accidents happen. She should have gotten probation at most. 5 years is outrageous.

FallingLeaves
31
Points
FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 10:01 am
0
0
I agree Louis, and I posted

I agree Louis, and I posted earlier on this subject, before the article was updated. I'll retrieve it now and post it.

FallingLeaves
31
Points
FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 10:03 am
0
0
What I read was that she

What I read was that she brought one of her children in the house, took a phone call from her "significant other" that distressed her, while she thought the mother's helper (her cousin) was getting the baby out of the car to put down for a nap. If that is the case, it was a mix-up, a tragic accident, that didn't warrant prison time, at least not that much. I've seen letting their children run the streets from the time they were just a bit taller than a toddler, so that they are nearly getting hit by cars on a regular basis, without consequence (yes, they were reported by more than one neighbor), I guess their parenting and their children don't matter until they get hit by a car? I guess not, one response I got was "do us a favor and run over them." When it comes to enforcing the law it seems to be too much or not enough. In the case of this young woman, it seems mercy was left out of the equation. She has suffered the ultimate punishment, the death of her child, and will still be grieving the loss of that child and not being able to be with her family to do her best to do a better job of it with them. If the media had the story right, why such a severe punishment?

FallingLeaves
31
Points
FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 10:09 am
0
0
Traditionally though, it

Traditionally though, it seems that no matter what other factors are involved, society tends to blame the mom. It's not the caller who distressed the mom's fault, it's not the mother's helper's fault, it's ONLY the mom's fault in the eyes of a judgmental public. And it seems, the court also. Just blame the mom, the person that has run herself ragged trying to take care of the baby, the household, and oh, yes, cared so little about the kids that she had a mother's helper. I'm being sarcastic. Women that get someone to help them care for the children are NOT doing it because they are negligent, they are doing it because they realize they are overwhelmed and need a helping hand. So just slap that caring mother in jail while she grieves for her child and make it ten times worse. Who is going to do her job for the child that DIDN'T die? I hope it's not the cousin who may have contributed to that child's death in the mix-up. Unless the story we got at the beginning was totally inaccurate. We don't know what happened, really, do we.

FallingLeaves
31
Points
FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 10:15 am
0
0
My third early morning

My third early morning comment re-posted since it was left off when the article was updated: I don't think justice was served here, but my disclaimer is I'm not the judge and I didn't hear all the facts. I am a mom, I have several children, including twins, 2 grand-children, and I've seen what can happen when people are tired, harried, over-whelmed, over-worked, struggling to survive, and distressed by things not in their control. Did you hear of the father, who left his child in the car seat on top of his car, and the child and seat tumbled off on the highway. Miraculously, the child survived the tumbling and traffic. No jail time for dad, for endangering the child. Time and again, childcare providers are leaving children on the buses. Movies are being made including comedic and dramatic scenarios where children are left behind when mommy or daddy go to work or take a trip. That is because these things are happening to exhausted parents, and truth is sometimes stranger, sometimes more tragic, than fiction.
Posted by baroness on Tue Sep 1, 2009 11:52 PM

FallingLeaves
31
Points
FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 10:20 am
0
0
Basically, we hope the judge

Basically, we hope the judge made the right decision, based on what was presented at court and that which was presented was truthful. But based on what I read in the media beforehand, this sentence didn't seem fair. Based on the fact that a simple disorderly conduct ticket can take three years to get dismissed even with evidence in hand that it was a false accusation, and other horror stories, it will take a lot to restore my trust in the court system.

FallingLeaves
31
Points
FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 10:23 am
0
0
And if you disagree with my

And if you disagree with my opinion, I respect that. I would appreciate it if the usual name-callers will show me the same respect I have showed them. I do not call names and I will protest if I am called names because I have voiced my opinion. Try the Golden Rule, it will make for more intelligent comments.

Native007
4
Points
Native007 09/02/09 - 10:51 am
0
0
I can see what you are

I can see what you are saying. 5 years is a pretty harsh sentence. When you compare it to other crimes where the convicted actually kill or rape someone, this sentence doesn't fit the bill. Why are we all so quick to pick up a pitchfork?

Bubba442
0
Points
Bubba442 09/02/09 - 11:18 am
0
0
Bet the rest of you moms(or

Bet the rest of you moms(or dads) won't leave your kids in a hot car,or will you?Peoples self concern can override any decision for anything that doesn't directly benefit themselves.Most people wake up thinking,me me me.How can I get this?How will I feel if? It seems to me that modern day people think of I or me more than they realize.Do a little test(if you have the gumption) and write down how many times a day(24 hrs) the words I or me cross your mind.

JesusIsComing
9
Points
JesusIsComing 09/02/09 - 11:18 am
0
0
Note to community: Never use

Note to community: Never use "Assistant Public Defender Brian Grantham" as your defense counsel.

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