Leslee Wood, 23, sat quietly in court. Her parents sat on either side to comfort and support her. Wood appeared briefly before a judge on charges of involuntary manslaughter in the death of her only child.
"She's devastated. Anyone you talk to about this young lady will tell you she's a fine person and a good mother," said Joe Bell, Wood's attorney.
Police said Wood left her 11-month-old son in a hot car in the parking of the Rocky Mount insurance company where she works. At least two hours later, someone spotted the child in the car and he was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late.
Investigators said Wood's normal routine was to drop her son off at daycare on her way to work. On the morning of the incident, she told investigators she put him in the car to do that, but then she forgot he was there.
"Anytime there is a death of a child it's very tragic and we have to weigh out a lot of options, and after conferring with the district attorney's office, they gave us the proper charge," said Sgt. Carl Revis, of the Rocky Mount Police Department.
Bell said he does not believe this is a case of involuntary manslaughter.
"It was a tragic accident, and she's paying a very dear price for this, and whether there was a crime ... No, I don't believe there was a crime committed that day," he said.
Revis said the charges are fair because parents are responsible for their child's safety.
"[It's] just a total and reckless disregard for the safety of the child," he said.
Since 1999, six children in North Carolina have died after being left in hot cars. Wood is only the second parent to face charges. She is scheduled to have a probable cause hearing on Aug. 31.
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