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Parents of child left alone get probation
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Parents who let their 3-year-old son wander away from home have been granted probation but will be required to be under the scrutiny of the Department of Children’s Services.
The couple, Mikella M. Garcia, 22, and Ladonta D. Hall, 24, entered guilty pleas before General Sessions Judge Bill Locke on Tuesday afternoon to charges of misdemeanor child abuse. Garcia was granted a six-month judicial diversion while Hall was placed on probation for six months. The difference between the two sentences is that in the case of the judicial diversion, Garcia’s criminal record will be erased at the end of probation. Hall was not afforded a diversion because of a prior offense.
Both parents will have to abide by DCS requirements regarding their parenting. They were originally hit with felony child neglect but the charge was reduced as a result of their plea agreements.
Their sentences come after their son was found in the parking lot of NHC Homecare which is located off Sparta Street and is a high-traffic area. A manager from NHC called police to report the young child being unattended in their parking lot.
“He was wearing only a pair of shorts, no shirt or shoes, and the temperature was 85 degrees and sunny,” said McMinnville policeman Richard Teachout.
Nearly half an hour after the child was first seen in the parking lot, Garcia came to ask about the child. When asked why the child was wandering alone, the mother told the officer she had instructed an 18-year-old friend to watch the children while she and her their father went to the store. However, during later questioning, the teen denied being asked to watch the children. Although she was at the residence where the parents lived, she said she didn’t even know they had left the residence.