Local News

Durham Woman Charged With Running Over Toddler In Parking Lot

Posted May 4, 2004

— A Durham woman is charged with running over a toddler in a grocery store parking lot Monday, leaving the girl seriously injured.

Police say Debbie Clayton, 34, of Durham, backed over 3-year-old April Padrone at the Food Lion parking lot on Hillsborough Road at 7:45 p.m.

Clayton is charged with felony hit-and-run and leaving the scene of an accident. She is being held in the Durham County Jail on $20,000 bond.

Investigators say Clayton was behind the wheel of a 1997 Chevrolet Malibu when she backed over April, then ran over the toddler a second time.

"The mother of the victim screamed. Apparently [Clayton] turned around and saw the mother and backed back over the 3-year-old," Assistant District Attorney Kendra Montgomery-Blinn said.

April suffered a fractured pelvis and required 75 stitches. She is in serious condition at Duke University Medical Center.

The incident caught the attention of Officer Larry Cox, who was working off-duty security at the store.

"Then I heard another scream and young child crying," Cox said. "A gentleman was picking the girl up off the pavement. She was bleeding internally."

Investigators claim Clayton tried to leave the scene.

While others were trying to help April, Cox saw Clayton get out of her car.

"This lady seems to hastily be walking away. I asked her to stay right there and she said she didn't do anything, it was a white truck," Cox said.

Prosecutors say Clayton later admitted to her involvement. Police say she was driving without a license.

Clayton has several pending charges against her, including prostitution and larceny. She is on probation for assault with deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

In court Tuesday, Clayton's probation officer stood up, choked back tears, and asked the judge not to let Clayton back on the street. She said she feared Clayton would end up killing herself or someone else.

The judge cited Clayton's criminal history and the severity of the toddler's injuries and denied reducing bond.

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