Child dies in locked vehicle; mother charged in connection

May 18, 2006
Andres R. Martinez
Monitor Staff Writer

WESLACO — The mother of an 8-month-old girl was arraigned Wednesday after the baby died from excessive heat when the girl was left in a pickup truck for three hours.

Julie Ann Gonzalez, 25, was charged with criminal negligent homicide Tuesday night after her daughter died at Knapp Weslaco Medical Center. The baby, whose name was withheld, had been sitting inside Gonzalez’s Ford F-150 pickup truck parked in front of Gonzalez’s house at 420 N. Cedro St.

Gonzalez, who is married but does not live with her husband, had been running errands Wednesday afternoon when her mother-in-law asked her where the baby was, said Weslaco police Lt. Tony Treviño.

Gonzalez told her mother-in-law the baby was sleeping in the house.

The mother-in-law and Gonzalez found the baby unconscious in the Ford F-150 pickup truck around 5:30 p.m. as they headed out to do more errands. Gonzalez called Weslaco police and the baby was taken to Knapp where she died.

Gonzalez’s three other children are with relatives. She has no criminal background, Treviño said. Texas Child Protective Services is investigating the case.

Gonzalez was transferred to Hidalgo County Jail on Wednesday and is being held on $5,000 bond.

If convicted, she faces a maximum of two years in jail and $10,000 fine.

The temperature in Weslaco reached 86 degrees Tuesday. Treviño reminded parents to never leave their children alone in a car, not even for 15 minutes.

"We are trying to educate the public," Treviño said. "Keep your eye on your child; don’t ever assume they are somewhere."