Ashley Howard Montana mother sentenced 21 year jailed after two year old toddler son, Caleb Hopkins dies in hot car while she partied and overslept hangover.
Come Monday, Ashley Howard, 21, found out her fate after a judge sentenced the woman to 20 years prison for the negligent homicide of her two-year-old son Caleb Hopkins.
Of note, five years of the 20-year sentence was suspended, with Howard eligible for parole in 10 years, the Billings Gazette reports.
Howard of Glendive, Mt. had been found guilty of causing the child’s death by a jury in August, after she left him in her car overnight and well into the afternoon of the following day while she attended a party and slept off a hangover.
Howard left Caleb in her car on the evening of June 25, 2018 and allegedly refused an offer from her boyfriend at the time to organize a lift home for her and her son, with the mother insisting she would sleep the alcohol off for a few hours — only to oversleep.
Boy had a temperature of 107 degrees
The young mother who had slept at a friend’s house after the party, didn’t wake up until 1pm the next day.
By that time Caleb had spent eight of the 14 hours inside the car in direct sunlight, the court heard.
When Howard returned to the car she discovered Caleb inside wrapped in a blanket and rushed him to hospital, according to People.
Doctors determined Caleb had a temperature of 107 degrees (41C ), with the boy dying in hospital two days later, with his cause of death ruled hyperthermia caused by overheating.
Caleb’s father John Howard later told police he knew of at least three other times Howard had left their son in a car.
According to KULR 8, prosecutors argued that Howard had tried to paint herself as the victim and her failure to not take responsibility for her actions.
‘I struggle with saying that I killed my son. Because nobody wants to be the reason their son is no longer here,’ she told the court Monday.
‘my decisions were selfish’
‘I miss him every day. I know that I will always love my son and I will always miss him.’
She added that she struggled with anxiety and her self-esteem.
‘Yes, I agree, my decisions were selfish,’ she said, but added that the lack of support she had ‘did not excuse my actions but mitigated them’.
Howard’s lawyer, Victor Bunitsky emphasized that the mother was only 19 and struggling with alcohol at the time of the incident.
‘Her brain hadn’t fully developed and she made a stupid decision,’ the lawyer said on behalf of his client.
In a statement to the Judge, Howard said she loved Caleb and claimed she hadn’t had enough support at the time of his death.
But Caleb’s grandmother Marsha Hopkins rejected Howard’s claims she hadn’t had help available.
‘You will have to live with the fact that you alone killed Caleb. Do I think that you meant to? No. Do I think that you could have prevented it? Absolutely. You knew what could have happened if you left him in the car, and you made that choice,’ Hopkins told the court.
During sentencing Judge Elizabeth Best said that Howard needed ‘serious and sustained treatment’ while in jail.
While her age had played a factor in Caleb’s death, Howard had also acted irresponsibly, Judge Best said.
‘All of these effects that you describe on yourself and your family are nothing compared to what happened to this boy,’ she said.