Local News

Autopsy: Heat exposure responsible for death of Durham girl left in van

Posted June 5

Leslie Ramirez

— A 3-year-old Durham girl who died last year after being left in a hot van on Hearthside Street died of hyperthermia from heat exposure, according to an autopsy report released Monday.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Leslie Ramirez Murillo also suffered from dehydration before she died.

Leslie was pulled from a hot van by family members at about 7 p.m. on Aug. 29 and pronounced dead shortly after. Authorities say high temperatures that day were around 90 degrees.

Leslie's mother, 24-year-old Rocio Murillo-Estrada, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony negligent child abuse in the girl's death.

Rocio Murillo-Estrada

According to an arrest warrant, Leslie was left in the van for more than four hours.

Family members have said Murillo-Estrada, her mother, another adult and five children, including Leslie, were running errands and returned home at about 3 p.m. At that point, everyone got out of the car, except for Leslie. Family members said they assumed the child had gotten out of the van when everyone else did, but she wasn't discovered missing until her father came home from work.

A prosecutor said in September, however, that the girl was left in the van after a dinner outing and that Murillo-Estrada had been in an altercation with her earlier.

Prosecutors alleged that Murillo-Estrada is a flight risk, stating that she isn't a U.S. citizen and she had recently visited the Mexican consulate in Raleigh.

Murillo-Estrada's defense argued that she visited the consulate solely for legal advice.

The county Department of Social Services took custody of Murillo-Estrada's other children following the incident.

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