Mom Faces Trial for Leaving Child in Car

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by madoka, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. madoka macrumors 6502


    Jul 17, 2002

    CHICAGO - Treffly Coyne was out of her car for just minutes and no more than 10 yards away.

    But that was long and far enough to land her in court after a police officer spotted her sleeping 2-year-old daughter alone in the vehicle; Coyne had taken her two older daughters to pour $8.29 in coins into a Salvation Army kettle.

    Minutes later, she was under arrest - the focus of both a police investigation and a probe by the state's child welfare agency. Now the case that has become an Internet flash point for people who either blast police for overstepping their authority or Coyne for putting a child in danger.

    The 36-year-old suburban mother is preparing to go on trial Thursday on misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and obstructing a peace officer. If convicted, she could be sentenced to a year in jail and fined $2,500, even though child welfare workers found no credible evidence of abuse or neglect.

    On Dec. 8 Coyne decided to drive to Wal-Mart in the Chicago suburb of Crestwood so her children and a young friend could donate the coins they'd collected at her husband's office.

    Even as she buckled 2-year-old Phoebe into the car, the girl was asleep. When Coyne arrived at the store, she found a spot to park in a loading zone, right behind someone tying a Christmas tree onto a car.

    "It's sleeting out, it's not pleasant, I don't want to disturb her, wake her up," Coyne said this week. "It was safer to leave her in the safety and warmth of an alarmed car than take her."

    So Coyne switched on the emergency flashers, locked the car, activated the alarm and walked the other children to the bell ringer.

    She snapped a few pictures of the girls donating money and headed back to the car. But a community service officer blocked her way.

    "She was on a tirade, she was yelling at me," Coyne said. The officer, Coyne said, didn't want to hear about how close Coyne was, how she never set foot inside the store and was just there to let the kids donate money, or how she could always see her car.

    Coyne telephoned her husband, Tim Janecyk, who advised her not to say anything else to police until he arrived. So Coyne declined to talk further, refusing even to tell police her child's name.

    When Janecyk pulled up, his wife already was handcuffed, sitting in a patrol car.

    Crestwood Police Chief Timothy Sulikowski declined to comment about the case. But he did not dispute the contention that Coyne parked nearby or was away from her car for just a few minutes.

    He did, however, suggest Coyne put her child at risk.

    "A minute or two, that's when things can happen," he said.

    Talk about the case has intensified, particularly online, where bloggers are weighing in on various message boards.

    Many have harsh words for the police department, calling the arrest of a mother who left her child in a locked car for a few minutes an abuse of authority.

    Yet statistics show thousands of children are injured and dozens die every year after being left unattended near or inside vehicles.

    "I am talking tens of thousands of people who leave their kids in the car for any period of time all around America," said Janette Fennell, founder and president of Kansas-based Kids and Cars. "People don't appreciate the dangers of leaving a child alone in the car."

    Coyne's attorney, Michelle Forbes, argued that Coyne did not break the law any more than a mother who parks in front of a school in a rainstorm and leaves an infant in the car as she runs a few feet to pick up another child.

    "As long as the car is not out of her sight, then the child is not unattended," she said.

    Cars with children inside have been stolen while the owners stepped inside service stations to pay for gas, Fennell said. Children sitting in cars have choked on things they stuck in their mouths. On Tuesday in Houston, after a woman got out of her car to walk across the street to talk to someone, her toddler was killed after he climbed out and tried to follow her.

    "That child was also 2," Fennell said, referring to Coyne's daughter.

    Coyne and her husband believe she is unfairly being lumped in with parents who put their children's lives at risk.

    "If I were going on a shopping spree then, yes, I would deserve arrest," Coyne said. "I was standing right there. I never went into the store.

    "I'm a great parent."

    This is total BS. Certainly there are times when it is child neglience, but this is certainly not one of them.

    As a parent, I've been in this situation before, and it's just safer to leave the kid in the car. For example, last month I was in a crowded gas station with cars zooming in and out. My 2 year old was sleeping in the back seat. It would be more reckless of me to wake her up and drag her the 25 feet to the cashier and risk getting hit by a car than to just leave her be. She can't unbuckle herself from the seat and she is always within my field of vision for the minute it took me to pay. Yet once I had some knucklehead threaten that she was going to report me to child welfare for leaving my kid in the car.
  2. Eric Piercey macrumors 6502

    Eric Piercey

    Nov 29, 2006
    Perpetual Bondage
    Been in that situation before, and I don't think it's wrong at all to leave a kid in a car when you're within 30 feet, depending on the situation. Obviously if the car is in any kind of risky situation that's another thing, but this was the front of a store and she was very close by, in immediate sight, able to get back to the car in seconds, and not planning on being gone for more than a minute. Cop should be caned on television. Next case.
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    That kid would have been in more danger outside of the car. It was slippery and cold outside. The best thing for the officer to do now is to quit his job as a police officer and do his city that favour. Clearly has no sense of right and wrong.
  4. Schtumple macrumors 601


    Jun 13, 2007
    Urgh, a officer driven purely by their ego wastes someone's time just to make themselves feel authoritative.
  5. Stampyhead macrumors 68020


    Sep 3, 2004
    London, UK
    America: where innocent people sit behind bars and criminals go free
  6. MrSmith macrumors 68040


    Nov 27, 2003
    D**m do-gooders again. A complete lack of reality. Let's put this in perspective:

    Baby dies of heat exhaustion in car while parents play pachinko
    The Mainichi Shimbun
    August 23, 2006

    SAKU, Nagano -- A couple who left their 9-month-old baby son in the stifling heat in their car while they played pachinko, causing him to die of heat exhaustion, have been reported to public prosecutors, police said.

    Reported to the Saku branch of the Nagano District Public Prosecutors Office on suspicion of gross negligence resulting in death were 27-year-old restaurant operator Masatoshi Hagiwara, and his 31-year-old wife Shizuka.

    Investigators said the couple left their 9-month-old son Seiko in their van in the parking lot of a pachinko parlor in Saku while they played pachinko for about 2 1/2 hours. When they returned to the vehicle shortly after noon, they found the infant slumped down. He died soon afterwards.

    At first, the couple told police that they had been out shopping, but investigators received information that they had been at a pachinko parlor. They later confessed that they had been playing pachinko.

    "We were embarrassed to say that we had been playing pachinko," police quoted one of the parents as saying. (Mainichi)

    Now that's serious.
  7. mcarnes macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2004
    USA! USA!
    They just need to determine if see was ever really out of sight of the car. If yes, guilty. If not, not guilty. Simple as that.
  8. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Well I don't see why someone wouldn't believe her. Her other children were taken out of the car and came with her. This indicates that she clearly has no problem with her children coming with her, and that this wasn't a sign of negligence.

    To me, this is the equivalent of busting someone for driving 1 mph over the limit. There is no excuse.
  9. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    Taking pictures of someone making a donation? That's just lame.
  10. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I can understand the police arresting her to a point. It sounds like they where stuck in a hard place when what sounds like a rent a cop called it in and went off the deep in. (little confused on the "community service officer"). Cops do the arrest thing because it was more forced on them so be it because of of how the "crime" was reported.

    But what I do not get is the city DA did not drop the case. They DA should know they do not have a case and just are wasting this persons time and money to defined them selves alone with their own. The DA is going to have a hard time proving the case when CS is saying that there was nothing done wrong.
  11. Daveman Deluxe macrumors 68000

    Daveman Deluxe

    Jun 17, 2003
    Corvallis, Oregon
    Why? They were all three young girls, they had undertaken to collect money for a good cause, and eight dollars is a rather large sum of money at that age. It sounds like as good of a childhood moment for preservation as any other.
  12. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Jan 30, 2004
    having a drink at Milliways
    police state + morons in uniform was always a bad mix
  13. iheartapple macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2008
    Wow, my parents would totally have been arrested if they had the laws that they have today, back then.

    My poor older brother has so many stories of him waking up at night in some random parking lot while my parents left him in the car to go shop. We're talking HOURS.

  14. remmy macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2007
    What the police are seeking is illogical, if the mother is found guilty, but because a technicality of law rather than common sense it means that those children may not have a mother to care for them for one year, which would certainly cause harm to them in some way.
  15. Moof1904 macrumors 65816

    May 20, 2004
    This is pathetic

    This is pathetic, people. Everyone is outraged here solely because they have the benefit of hindsight, knowing that nothing bad happened to that child. We all know that in practically any major city in the world, a car can be stolen in moments, car lock, alarm, security cameras, or not.

    Had this car been stolen by someone who was staking out the parking lot and somehow the car and the child met with destruction and death, everyone would be outraged at the mother for leaving the child abandoned, even briefly.

    30 feet away and three minutes can be an eternity. And there's no guarantee that the mother would have made it back in a few minutes. She could have become distracted, one of the other kids could have wandered off or been abducted, or any one of a million things could have happened that would have prevented or delayed the mother's return or distracted her from watching the infant and the car that was left unattended.

    The cop is absolutely right: bad things happen in mere moments. The law is written with this in mind. The risk, not the outcome, is what defines the carelessness, the stupidity, and the illegality of her actions.
  16. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    What if the 2 year old went outside with her mother, slipped, and hurt herself? You don't have the benefit of hindsight either, and can't prove that this wouldn't have happened.

    You only have the benefit of questioning hindsight, which doesn't involve actually proving something. Can you really prove that the danger of being left in an alarmed car, while the mother was within several feet from the car is more dangerous than the child being outside in sleet?

    Can losing the little girl's mother for 1 year have a worse affect on the little girl than being inside a secure car several feet from her mother?

    Without the benefit of hindsight, can you tell me that the loss of $2500 right now will not negatively affect the family, or the child's upbringing due to their weakened ability to provide for the child in some way?

    The police don't even have Child Services on their side. They're screwed, and they should be screwed.
  17. Moof1904 macrumors 65816

    May 20, 2004
    I stand by my argument that her actions posed a criminal risk to her child. Yes, the actions were far safer than those people who leave kids in the car for hours on a hot day to see a movie blah blah blah. Her actions were probably the least risky that I would still classify as criminally negligent.

    Are you seriously suggesting that the risk of slippery pavement is preferable over the countless scenarios in which a child, left unattended in a car, could suffer? By that argument, you would criminalize letting one's child walk on a slippery street. Or walk in a street at all.

    And your argument that the child would be more harmed by the mother being in jail for a year has no place in this discussion. I'm not arguing that the woman needs to go away for a year and the fact the it's a possibility is not a reason to call her actions acceptable.

    The woman hasn't been found guilty of the crime nor has she been sentenced. As screwed up as the system might be, we have juries and attorneys so that all of the facts of the case can be weighed by impartial people who will determine her guilt and her punishment. I don't have enough knowledge of the events to make that determination. I'm merely arguing that to get a wave off on this, to be allowed to just go home with the message that her actions were entirely acceptable, is wrong. She needs to have her actions judged and some sort of response delivered.
  18. brad.c macrumors 68020


    Aug 23, 2004
    50.813669°, -2.474796°
    Well yes, you can argue that. But I certainly hope you practice what you preach every second of the day if and when you become a parent. And when YOU make a judgement call, there will always be somebody second guessing your parenting skills.

    Good luck.
  19. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006

    I am going to go with has a much greater chance of happening. We both know that child being seriously injured by slippery pavement had a much greater chance of happening than one of the countless scenarios of one of the car ones to happen.

    It is looking at odds here and making the best judgment call for the child. It should be very clear to a reasonable person that leaving the child sleeping in an alarmed and lock car that NEVER was out of sight of the mother who was less than 50 ft away at all times was the best choice.

    This argument that you are making that it is criminally negligent is the same as saying letting a young child playing in the fount yard while not devoting there full attention to the child is criminally negligent. I know my parents did this when I was 5 years old. A lot of times my father might go out side and work on his car or something else while I was there. I seen other parents do this all the time on the street. They will be out side at the same time but clearly working on something else and not paying a huge amount of attention to the child short of quick look every now and then. Mostly they are just in ear shot of them. This is no different than that.
  20. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Jan 30, 2004
    having a drink at Milliways
    I agree 100%, and would only add the very likely possibility that a meteorite
    could have hit the car and obliterate the child when the mother was away, without the mother's loveshield™ there to protect him.
  21. mactastic macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003

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