Authorities Arrest Fort Smith Couple After Young Child Left In Car Dies

Monday, September 24, 2007 11:32 AM CDT
By Hicham Raache

Fort Smith investigators have arrested the parents of a 22-month-old girl, who died Saturday after she was left alone inside her parents’ vehicle for several hours.

Estrella Marin was pronounced dead at Sparks Regional Medical Center Saturday, sometime after 5 p.m. Investigators with the Police Department began interviewing the child’s parents, 22-year-old Jose Marin and 30-year-old Mirna Marin, following her death, according to Sgt. Jarrard Copeland.

The investigation was initially conducted as a “death investigation” only, and the Marins were not pursued as suspects. However, both were arrested on suspicion of negligent homicide, a misdemeanor level crime, Saturday night, according to Copeland.

Investigators have learned that the Marins had traveled to their home in the 1900 block of Waco Street at around 2 p.m., after attending church services with their four children. Upon arriving home, Mirna exited the vehicle with Jose and her three children from a previous relationship — a 12-year-old son, a 10-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter — and entered their residence, according to Copeland.

Once inside, Jose and Mirna both took a nap. When Mirna woke up three hours later, she asked her children where Estrella was. After the children said they did not know, Mirna checked outside and found her youngest daughter inside the family vehicle, still secured in her car seat. The child was unresponsive, Copeland said.

Estrella was transported to Sparks, where she was pronounced dead, according to Copeland, who said he did not know the exact time of the girl’s death.

Sgt. Chris Harris said he was informed that the child’s parents brought her to Sparks.

The child’s body was transported to the coroner’s office and will be sent to the medical examiner’s office at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in Little Rock for a determination on the exact cause of her death, according to Harris.

Copeland said he has not been informed of any visible injuries on Estrella.

Both Jose and Mirna Marin were transported to the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center where they are each being held on $10,000 bond. Mirna’s other three children are in the custody of their biological father.