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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zippy
234
Points
zippy 09/02/09 - 11:24 am
0
0
I know I wont leave my kids

I know I wont leave my kids in the car, but I don't need this lady going to prison to deter me. the sentence is too harsh for these circumstances. The Judge said that he might reconsinder at a later date. Maybe after a couple of months, he will do the right thing and release her to probation and monitor her parenting skills through probation. If deterence is the goal, one night in actual prison will likley do the trick for those parents who are even paying enough attention to care.

latosha_5
0
Points
latosha_5 09/02/09 - 11:31 am
0
0
are you really serious

are you really serious baroness? there is no one else to blame. the cousin did not have to be there or volunteer to help with the children. and it was the mother's choice to answer the phone and take that call! it is all her fault! and this "accident" stuff is ridiculous! this was not an accident... when i ride with my nephew and his parents, someone says who's getting the baby? or i say i got the baby or my brother or his wife voice it. not once has he ever been left in the car. i will leave groceries to spoil in the car so i can take him out first and settle him in the house. this is neglect and yes the death of a child is a horrible punishment in it's own, but it is something that beign a responsible person and parent can avoid! RESPONSIBILITY people!

Tots
25738
Points
Tots 09/02/09 - 11:44 am
0
0
The mother made two tragic

The mother made two tragic mistakes.The first in the accidental death of her child.The second by not hiring the same lawyer the girl used that cut her babies up.

corgimom
27781
Points
corgimom 09/02/09 - 11:59 am
0
0
Dying of thirst and

Dying of thirst and dehydration is a terrible way to die. How that poor baby suffered. All she had to do is say, "Wait a minute, Babydaddy, let me make sure the baby is ok".

sad4u
0
Points
sad4u 09/02/09 - 12:05 pm
0
0
I never saw the original

I never saw the original story, but from what I gathered here, there are two adults to blame- did the cousin get charged with anything? I have to admit, that while this is tragic, even when I had "help" I was constantly checking on my child. Even when they where supposed to be napping. At that age I had such a fear of them suffocating, I barely slept myself! I can't look past leaving a baby in a car for that long! I always had to do those things myself- the cousin would've helped with the bags or the older tot has it been me. I hate that her daughter is going to be without her mother. I feel like this is harsh, especially after the other mom getting 'weekend" when the foster parents testified in court that her three year old thougth you dug a hole outside to pee....I bet this ladies 5 year old is nothing like that.

Evans Ga.
0
Points
Evans Ga. 09/02/09 - 12:07 pm
0
0
I second AMEN

I second AMEN "astheworldturns".

jack
10
Points
jack 09/02/09 - 12:21 pm
0
0
I have helped raise 3

I have helped raise 3 children and believe me, my wife and I damn sure knew if our baby was inside as they DO make noise IF you are paying attention.

Bubba442
0
Points
Bubba442 09/02/09 - 12:27 pm
0
0
Corgiman, death is terrible

Corgiman, death is terrible anyway you look at it unless you have life eternal through Jesus Christ.

Rose
17
Points
Rose 09/02/09 - 12:51 pm
0
0
This was no accident. She

This was no accident. She killed her baby. She left him in a hot car in August, and he cooked till he died. No excuses. I am surprised that the judge gave her 5 yrs, because usually those women who kill their kids getaway with no time. Poor things had problems,etc. That is bull.

Rose
17
Points
Rose 09/02/09 - 12:55 pm
0
0
andy you said you don't know

andy you said you don't know that death probably saved this child from a lifetime of pain and neglect. So you think what happened was best for the baby? No way was it best. The best thing would be for the mother to get the same sentence her baby got...death.

Native007
4
Points
Native007 09/02/09 - 01:11 pm
0
0
Death ROSE? Really? Wow,

Death ROSE? Really? Wow, glad we are all thinking rationally today...

Laguria
0
Points
Laguria 09/02/09 - 01:14 pm
0
0
A responsible parent with a

A responsible parent with a young baby has a checklist in their mind that they constantly review. Where is the baby?,....Is it time to feed the baby?,....Is it time to change the baby?,...And an assortment of many other inate parenting questions. This trumps any telephone call one would recieve. Lag

corgimom
27781
Points
corgimom 09/02/09 - 01:22 pm
0
0
That baby's eternal life is

That baby's eternal life is not the issue here. Death by thirst and dehydration causes tremendous suffering. That poor baby was tortured. It cried continuously until it passed out and died. It upsets me just thinking about it.

mdb67
9
Points
mdb67 09/02/09 - 01:33 pm
0
0
She should spend one year in

She should spend one year in jail for each day the child was alive...42 years!! Murder is murder!! I think she is up for the Mother of the year award!!

jshiver15
0
Points
jshiver15 09/02/09 - 01:37 pm
0
0
Quote from Rose: "andy you

Quote from Rose: "andy you don't know that death probably saved this child from a lifetime of pain and neglect. So you think what happened was best for the baby? No way was it best. The best thing would be for the mother to get the same sentence her baby got...death."

One thing to say about this quote: You're a freaking idiot.

Native007
4
Points
Native007 09/02/09 - 01:37 pm
0
0
Please look up the definition

Please look up the definition of "murder." It was ignorant, but unintentional.

Jshiver15, I second that

jshiver15
0
Points
jshiver15 09/02/09 - 01:38 pm
0
0
"She should spend one year in

"She should spend one year in jail for each day the child was alive...42 years!! Murder is murder!! I think she is up for the Mother of the year award!!" Oh yeah, and for every parents who has had a child kidnapped or hit by a car should suffer the same punishment. Riiiiight Do you people completely lack reality? You're all sick.

TNnative
0
Points
TNnative 09/02/09 - 01:57 pm
0
0
Wow.... Some of you guys are

Wow.... Some of you guys are brutal. Having had two children myself, the hormonal fluctuations and sleep deprivation during those first few months left my brain fuzzy and forgetful. It's a tragedy - no doubt - but the woman will suffer for the rest of her life for this. Reading some of these comments reminds me of the Salem Witch Hunt....

Bubba442
0
Points
Bubba442 09/02/09 - 02:21 pm
0
0
corgiman,eternal life is

corgiman,eternal life is always an issue when death is involved.This was a 6 week old child.This was an infant that didn't know the meaning of suffering.You,I,Lisa,Judge Annis and the public know what suffering is,but this baby did not.I don't remember being alive at 6 weeks, do you?I agree that this death was unnecessary.Saying the baby was tortured is kind of not so.Look up the definition in the dictionary.Furthermore, I agree that the parent is liable for a their kids actions and well being and some sort of punishment should be administered,but I don't know if prison is the answer, do you? Maybe we should give Lisa the chair so this doesn't happen again with her other child?Maybe we should just chalk it up as "oops, it won't happen again ". Make no mistake,life eternal is and always should be a persons priority.

buster
0
Points
buster 09/02/09 - 02:30 pm
0
0
Should have locked up the

Should have locked up the cousin as well.

ordinaryguy
0
Points
ordinaryguy 09/02/09 - 02:43 pm
0
0
Hey Judge, here's the lesson

Hey Judge, here's the lesson you just sent: don't leave your child in the car, take it to Citgo & hack it to pieces.

pommom38
1496
Points
pommom38 09/02/09 - 02:45 pm
0
0
Give me a freakin break.. All

Give me a freakin break.. All you people that keep using EXCUSES! So what, parents know ahead of time that it's a tiring, exhausting job to raise a child. Life is hectic and overwhelming at times, get over it.. People do it daily and don't *forget* there children. It isn't our cousins, mother's, father's, etc.. responsibility to get our children or watch them. So no.. She deserved what she got, more actually. And why should the cousin be locked away? NOT her child, NOT her responsibility.. The mother was right there to handle it. To bad she didn't. And yep, she'll suffer every single day for this, or wait. maybe not.. She didn't seem to care enough to make sure her baby was safe and sound in the house. Justice is not always served, and the judges leave some stuff seriously lacking. This case is total contradiction to one many months ago, the dad left his child in the blazing heat to die because *he forgot the child was in the car*, and *he didn't usually take the child in the morning*. I don't give a rats a**.. you had the child, no excuse.. yet, he got nothing... You live with these children daily, how do you forget?? It's a LIFE, not a set of keys or a coffee cup.

Bubba442
0
Points
Bubba442 09/02/09 - 02:57 pm
0
0
Buster, anyone else u want

Buster, anyone else u want jailed?

Bubba442
0
Points
Bubba442 09/02/09 - 03:17 pm
0
0
pommom,When it was time to

pommom,When it was time to turn in homework little Johnny said "I left mine at home." Later the same day he got caught chewing gum in class.The teacher said"You forgot your homework, but you remembered your gum?"
"No"replied Johnny"I bought it on the way to school,but I took my little sister inside out of the rain.Mom forgot and left her outside this morning after helping the newspaper guy"
People tend to get their priorities mixed up.What is the priority here?Johnnys' homework?Little sisters well being? The chewing gum?Moms helpfulness? Lets ask judge Annis.

Rose
17
Points
Rose 09/02/09 - 03:29 pm
0
0
Judge Annis is to be

Judge Annis is to be congratulated for giving her time in prison. She deserves everyday she spends there.

BethsArk
0
Points
BethsArk 09/02/09 - 03:58 pm
0
0
Accidental death happens all

Accidental death happens all the time!

she did not intentionally kill her child hense the other one made it into the house! She didnt cut them up in pieces or leave them in a parking lot to be run over. She is and was a singel mom with littel sleep a job 2 kids and NOT on welfare! She was trying to do the right thing got over tired over whelmed and this accident happened. She feels terriable beyond what anyone could imagine.The death of your child is the worst pain you will ever have.Instead of saying horriabel things pray for her remeber you are not god and its not your job to judge people. When is the last time you had an accident that could of cost someone their life intentionally like talking on the phone while driving, driving drunk, Running a red light those are intentional! Prayer is best we can not change reality but we can pray to make it better!

Rest in peace Dalton

pommom38
1496
Points
pommom38 09/02/09 - 04:59 pm
0
0
Uh, yea.. It is our duty to

Uh, yea.. It is our duty to *judge* people. We do it every day court's in session. It's called jury duty. This gal ought to be dang glad she didn't need one, they'd find her guilty every time.
Your point bubba?? Mom's responsibility to keep track of lil sis left in the rain. Ya'll have your senses seriously messed up.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 05:03 pm
0
0
Yes, I am serious latosha.

Yes, I am serious latosha. I've seen repeated neglect and abuse of children all over this zip code that I've reported and not a blasted thing was done about it, yet this woman makes ONE tragic error in communication with the cousin she asked to help her and has paid for it with the loss of her baby. I know how fatigued and sleep-deprived mom's get when they have a 6 week old baby, these can cause you to make serious errors, the miracle is that MORE mistakes don't happen like this, or at least, that tragic consequences don't come of their mistakes more often. As far as deterrence, most new moms don't have time to watch the news or read the papers, they probably won't even hear about this unless someone tells them about it. I've seen mistakes like this happen more than once, where intervention was necessary and no charges were even considered never-mind pursued. I'm not saying I'm right about this, I haven't seen the facts of the case presented, but why don't we show her some mercy, it's apparent the judge didn't allow himself to show any at sentencing.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 05:07 pm
0
0
Rose, you would be the first

Rose, you would be the first one to squawk if you were judged at the same level you judge others. There but for the grace of God goes your latchkey elementary school daughter.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 05:11 pm
0
0
pommom38, but you weren't ON

pommom38, but you weren't ON that jury, so you don't know the whole story, and even then, the jury STILL doesn't know the whole story, they just know what they choose to allow to be shown and told. And we know even less about it, basically all we get is hearsay.

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