Karen Murphy, a veterinarian, from Bristow, Virginia, has plead guilty to murdering her toddler after leaving him in the back of her hot minivan for seven hours.
According to police, Murphy left her two-year-old child, Ryan, in the back of her 2010 Honda Odyssey minivan for seven hours on 17th June 2011. Murphy went to work a shift at Caring Hand Animal Hospital and then drove home with her son in the van.
Murphy’s husband had gone to pick their son up from daycare. He was told their son was not there.
At about 4pm Murphy found her son in the back of the minivan “still and unresponsive”.
A neighbor attempted to resuscitate her son until the paramedics arrived. Ryan was pronounced dead at the scene.
NBC reports that this was not the first time Murphy had forgotten her son was in the minivan. In January 2011, she briefly left Ryan in the van, until his day care provider called to ask why he wasn't there.
She was sentenced to 12 months in jail at the Prince William Circuit Court on Monday. Her sentence will be suspended and Murphy will serve six years of probation and 400 hours of community service.
Murphy has been in touch with “KidAndCars”, an organization which raises awareness about the deaths of kids left in or around vehicles. She was not ordered to contact this group by the court.
Before sentencing took place, her defense attorney, Edward MacMahon said that Ryan’s death was a "tragic accident" and said Murphy was "devastated" by what had happened.
Figures compiled by a San Francisco State University Professor show that, in 2011, 33 children across the United States died from hyperthermia, or overheating, having been left in vehicles. Over the past 13 years, 52 percent of children who died that way had been forgotten in the car by a caregiver.