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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youbetcha
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youbetcha 09/02/09 - 05:14 pm
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He who has never sinned cast

He who has never sinned cast the fist stone!!!!!!
She will be "prison" for the rest of her life!

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 05:15 pm
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By the way, latosha, she DID

By the way, latosha, she DID get her other child out of the car before she did anything else.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 05:15 pm
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Well said BR549jr a prison of

Well said BR549jr a prison of grief and "what if" compounded by the loss of five years with her other child. There is no doubt in my mind that she would love and protect the other child as fiercely as a lioness and that the only concern would be if she was OVER-protective. Too bad she will be locked up during the formative years of her daughter's life.

JohnQPublic
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JohnQPublic 09/02/09 - 06:16 pm
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Cooking to death in a closed

Cooking to death in a closed vehicle is not torture? Go turn your oven all the way up, jump in and close the door. She deserved the sentence. Enough with all the wrist slapping and pampering....uphold the letter of the law!

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 06:45 pm
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JohnQ, the difference is,

JohnQ, the difference is, your instructions mean the person INTENTIONALLY is turning on the oven and jumping in. There was no INTENTION to harm in this tragic accident. It was an accident due to a mis-communication. She did NOT deserve this sentence. And if the letter of the law was upheld consistently across the board, we wouldn't have had a neighborhood plagued by recidivist drug-traffickers and their co-dependents destroying it from within. The scales of justice are not balanced. Why such a severe punishment in an accident, and yet drug-traffickers are released again and again to contribute to the destruction of lives of their customers and families affected by their addictions. Individuals, families and whole communities are being dragged down by the drug culture and the culture of death. Not only are these recidivists doing this intentionally, they are doing it with callous disregard for the lives and health of others. Callous disregard is just another form of hate, so there you have it: Hate crimes. That baby's death was no hate crime. That mother is in agony; her grief is palpable.

workingmom
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workingmom 09/02/09 - 06:52 pm
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The death of a child is

The death of a child is always a tragedy. All mothers get tired and can be distracted by one thing or another at times. She should have checked on the child sooner. Being a mother, I can't imagine forgetting a baby in a car for that long. I am not sure if I agree with the sentence or not since it was unintentional and she does have another child. I do believe it was a horrible accident but even so, she was ultimately responsible for the child's safety. No way can this be blamed on someone else and she should be held accountable in some way.

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 06:54 pm
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And just so no one

And just so no one misunderstands, I'm not blaming the cousin for this either. This was an ACCIDENT. There was no intention to harm on anyone's part. Neither do I consider it a neglectful act. It was a tragic mistake. Neglect implies intention to disregard a child's needs. There was no such intention here. Not according to what we have been told. If there was any intention of disregarding this baby's needs, it has not been addressed in any article I've read.

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 09/02/09 - 06:58 pm
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She has been held accountable

She has been held accountable enough ALREADY. She has been punished enough with the public outcry, the judgmental condemnation of others, her ability to move about freely to care for her other child diminished and now incapacitated by a sentence of five years in jail. She has been punished more than enough, if what has been presented by the media is the whole story. If there is more to this story that warrants this punishment, it has not been made public as far as I know.

happythoughts
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happythoughts 09/02/09 - 07:49 pm
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People shouldn't assume. I

People shouldn't assume. I would think it was a case of not being responsible enough and having a lazy streak on someone's behalf. The brand new baby suffered and so should the person who neglected the baby for an hour, of course by assuming another person was caring for her baby. How sad and irresponsible. The cousin seems to have been a distraction, this probably wouldn't have happened if she wasn't laying around her house.

anonymous22
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anonymous22 09/02/09 - 08:28 pm
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I have 3 children, at one

I have 3 children, at one time all 3 were under the age of 3 and my biggest worry was forgetting 1 of them...I never forgot them...I don't see how one could forget them...people make mistakes..Lisa has to live with this forever, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I had been the one to forget my baby. I believe the cousin should be charged as well, you have 2 grown adults and no one notices the baby...wow...I was by myself at home while my husband worked on the road.

MyOpinion2
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MyOpinion2 09/02/09 - 08:55 pm
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Why not make her give lessons

Why not make her give lessons in hospitals/schools, etc.to new mom's to be for 5 years, turn this terrible tradgedy into something positive? she doesnt look dangerous to me.

Rose
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Rose 09/02/09 - 09:17 pm
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baroness you are a fine one

baroness you are a fine one to be defending that female who killed her baby. She killed her baby. You get it? As for my latch key daughter, that is none of your freaking business. Latch key kids was common in the 1980s. And she was home alone for only a few minutes, and knew what to do in case of an emergency. The judge has spoken. the woman got only 5 yrs for killing her 6 week old baby. I still think she should have gotten the same sentence she gave her baby.

jshiver15
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jshiver15 09/02/09 - 10:32 pm
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Rose, you have got to be one

Rose, you have got to be one of the biggest morons ever.

alwaysfirst
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alwaysfirst 09/03/09 - 12:07 am
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Buster,do u have kids?how can

Buster,do u have kids?how can u blame the cousin when she was only a child..and not a mother..she dont have a mother instink that a real mother should have..a mother that totes a baby 4 nine months should not 4get their baby n 6 weeks...dont blame the cousin the mother is responable...I have children...n dont depend on other children to take care of my children..I know where my children are at all times!! I can not judge her only the good lord can...but we do have to be responable as parents...it is sad that this child had to leave so soon...but he is in gods hands now.4 god loves all babies!! SO WHEN HAVIN KIDS BE RESPONABLE DONT BLAME OTHERS!! GOD BLESS TO ALL FALLEN CHILDREN...

tiredofit1
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tiredofit1 09/03/09 - 12:14 am
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Is it possible to comment on

Is it possible to comment on the issues without name calling,and attacking those that you disagree with?

alwaysfirst
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alwaysfirst 09/03/09 - 12:37 am
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no name callin here..just

no name callin here..just statin facts..children being left in cars and drownin in pools leavin them on top of cars n stabbin them in bathrooms were just tired of it

jshiver15
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jshiver15 09/03/09 - 09:24 am
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"Is it possible to comment on

"Is it possible to comment on the issues without name calling,and attacking those that you disagree with?" No, it's not possible when you're replying to people with absolutely no sense whatsoever.

alwaysfirst
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alwaysfirst 09/03/09 - 10:48 am
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is it possible to be

is it possible to be responsible for our own actions and not put the blame on anybody but ur self...we can blame it on anybody in the world but the truth is she was the mother of this child and should have known were both of her children was at all times....the cousin is a young teen with no child because she is still a child herself.we all need to pray when she gets out that she has learned a lessen and to be more responsble with her other child because they are the ones that suffer in the end.god bless the children and forgive the mother and help her to be a better mom in the future.only one can judge and that is GOD............

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 09/04/09 - 04:45 pm
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Rose, I'm not defending a

Rose, I'm not defending a woman who killed her baby. She did not kill her baby or we would be looking at a different charge and sentence. And you wrote in your post your daughter was home alone for 30 minutes every day after school.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 09/04/09 - 04:54 pm
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And just so you don't deny

And just so you don't deny it: "When my youngest was in 1st grade. I went to work full-time. She was the first one home in the afternoons.She had a key to unlock the gate, and a door key. She would let the dog im the house. she had phone numbers in case of emergency. She knew not to tell anyone she was alone.She was 6 yrs old, and she was fine till I got home from work. She was home about 30 minutes alone. Her dad would call and be sure she was ok.
Posted by Rose on Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:13 PM" How old was she? FIVE? SIX Years old? I hope that paycheck was worth the risk (how could it be?).

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 09/04/09 - 07:25 pm
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The mother didn't "forget"

The mother didn't "forget" the baby was in the car, according to the articles I read. She thought her mother's helper had put the baby down for a nap while she was on the phone with her caller. I don't know why people keep overlooking that.

alwaysfirst
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alwaysfirst 09/07/09 - 01:00 am
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If she would have been

If she would have been worring about her baby than fighting with another girl about the sorry daddy of this child.this would have not happen.she is not a bad person just mixed up with some bad people.she should have been more responsible mother but worried about the wrong things in life.The daddy went to prison right after this happen for the two deaths in a car wreck in sc .because he was Drunk Driving.they were fighting that morning over an ex Girlfriend instead of worring about the welfare of there child.he should get some time for this to.this young child is the one that suffered and didnt get a chance in life.is a child life only worth 5 years.not in this life or the next.only the good lord can judge her and he will judge when he

alwaysfirst
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alwaysfirst 09/07/09 - 01:09 am
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is ready, the cousin was not

is ready, the cousin was not watching the baby.She is a young girl with out a child because she still is a child.when she got out of the car she took the little girl in with her while the mother got out moments later and forgot her son.so the cousin is not the blame for this lost of a child.

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