Local News

Babysitter Appeals Conviction

Posted Updated

RALEIGH — May 1, 1996, 9:20 a.m. EDT

A woman convicted last year in Wake County District Court of contributing to the neglect of a minor is appealing that decision. Debra Brown, 37, of Holly Springs was babysitting for a friend's two children in her home when the 3-year-old wandered away, not to be discovered -- unharmed -- until 15 hours later.

At issue is whether Brown neglected David A. Scott III, by "listening for him" as he rode his tricycle in her gravel driveway a year ago, rather than watching him. As he played, prosecutors said, she talked on the phone 75 minutes with a Massachusetts friend.

Prosecutors produced telephone records to substantiate the length of the call.

Wake County Sheriff's deputies said Brown smelled of alcohol the evening when they arrived at her home. "She had been drinking, I could tell by her voice, and I could smell it on her breath," said Sgt. Richard Johnson. "She was highly agitated at times."

Brown has said she had one beer the day he disappeared from her mobile home.

The child's parents have defended Brown, saying a toddler can wander away from anyone. David was found in dense woods near the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant and reservoir in southwestern Wake County. He had been accompanied by Brown's cocker spaniel.

If Brown loses the appeal, and if she has no prior convictions, she could be sentenced to probation or ordered to perform community service

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