Mother found guilty, father not guilty of baby’s death in hot car

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EL CAJON, Calif. -- The mother of a 4-month-old boy who died after being left in a hot car for 14 hours outside their El Cajon apartment was convicted Thursday of felony child abuse and drug charges.

A status conference for 24-year-old Jessica Quezada is scheduled for July 20. No sentencing date was immediately set.

The baby's father, 32-year-old Israel Soto, was acquitted of a child abuse charge.

Deputy District Attorney Carlos Campbell said the infant was “completely abandoned'' as his parents slept in the morning of July 27, 2013. Authorities said Giovanni Soto's body temperature was 107 degrees when he was discovered.

“He (Giovanni) died because his parents did nothing, and had a duty to do everything,'' the prosecutor said in his opening statement. “This is not a tragic accident. This could have been avoided.''

Campbell said the defendants, along with Quezada's brother and his girlfriend, arrived home to their apartment on North Mollison Avenue about 10:30 p.m. on July 26.

The four adults had gone shopping at Walmart because Soto, Quezada and their four young children had moved into the apartment a week earlier, Campbell said.

Quezada's brother closed the back door to the parents' car before coming inside, and neither Soto nor Quezada checked on their son, despite the fact that Quezada and her brother smoked marijuana six feet away from the car, Campbell alleged.

The next day, Quezada was awake for 30 minutes before asking about her baby's whereabouts, according to the prosecutor.

Campbell said Quezada's brother found his nephew unresponsive in the hot car, and Giovanni died despite efforts to revive him.

Officers later found methamphetamine in Quezada's purse and she had meth in her system at the time, Campbell told the jury.

Quezada's attorney, Bart Sheela, said leaving the baby in the car was not an intentional act by the defendants.

“They were careless,'' Sheela said. “They were good parents.''

Sheela said that once home from Walmart, Quezada looked out and saw the car door closed and assumed Giovanni had been brought into the apartment.

After getting in bed, Quezada felt what she thought was her child and went to sleep, Sheela told the jury.

“It is inconceivable that he's (the baby) still in the car,'' the attorney said.

Soto's attorney, Kathleen Lee, said Soto and Quezada loved their children and cared about them.

Lee said Soto never realized Giovanni was not in the apartment. The next day, when others alerted Soto that Giovanni was found in the car unresponsive, “it was complete and utter hysterics,'' Lee told the jury.

“His (Giovanni's) parents didn't commit a crime. They made a mistake,'' Lee told the jury.

13 comments

  • Bryan Pettengill

    Lets see, the mother had meth her her system. Left the baby in a car. yup sounds like a good parent to me. I don’t know about them, but when my kids were 4 months old, they still ate every 4 hours or so, I think I would have checked on them for feed once during the night and rest of the day…

  • Richard Zachar

    More and more, we have been reading and hearing about how children and pets being left in hot cars resulting in permanent physical damage. (e.g. brain damage, liver failure, loss of consciousness, nerve damage and a host of other organ failures). Of course the the most devastating of all is the death of our loved one. As we read through these tragedies many of us, and rightly so, feel anger, disgust, sympathy, empathy, and a myriad of emotions. Some want to castigate the offending driver of the car, while others are offering forgiveness and solace. All of these reactions are valid except there is the one aspect we are neglecting. That is that the one we love most has suffered an agonizing and painful circumstance. No matter what we say or do, we cannot reverse the event.
    What should we do to PREVENT these catastrophes? Taking poetic license, you will note that I have capitalized Prevent. I do this because prevention is the only 100% guarantee heatstroke does not occur. Over the past several days and weeks many news organizations and early morning television shows have been waging a war on PREVENTING hyperthermia. Several of the programs like Fox and GMA have been offering advice that has been provided by the NHTSA. Unfortunately some of this information is incomplete. The NHTSA in May 2010 and again in June 2015 has suggested that you leave an article in the backseat that you know you will use during the day when you exit the vehicle. This of course is all well and good, but it still does not solve the problem. The reason it does not, is because it requires the driver to take an overt action to accomplish this task. If the car operator is already distracted, what makes anyone think they will remember to put “a shoe” in the backseat. Not going to happen.
    Others suggest that one get an App for their phone so that when they exit the car a call is received by the driver reminding them to check for the baby. Once again the driver has to do something, such as make sure they have the correct set of keys, another driver is not driving the baby that day, you can hear the phone ringing in a purse or briefcase etc. Better, but not foolproof.
    What is necessary, is that an alarm goes off every time the driver’s door is opened. One the door is opened, it automatically speaks to the person. Something that does not require the car operator to be proactive. The Bee-Alert Hot Car Child Safety Alarm is the only patented alert that talks to you every time the door is opened. No matter where your mind is or how much you are distracted the “Check Car Seat” alert brings you back to your most important responsibility at that time, the loved one in the back seat. It is mistakable in its message meaning. the Bee-Alert is inexpensive, easy to install, just peel and stick, and it speaks your language. Don’t take my word for it, take his. For more information regarding opportunities with the Bee-Alert Co. or if you are an organization desiring to raise money or have an interest in our giveaway program contact us at rzachar@bee-alert.com or 772-834-3736 352 638 2553 What is a loved ones life worth?

  • Tany

    Yes .. So do you shooting kids at schools. Blaming bulling. This can continue viral . or stop. I’ll be first. We are all humans color.. Race … Will always be there in everyone. But we are in control so lets show it humans.

  • CAL FIRE NEWS (@CalFireNews)

    I’m very concerned that after shooting a man the cops are allowed to cancel an ambulance regardless of how many times they shot someone they are NOT qualified to pronounce death! that’s EMS job! and too convenient for the officer ‘s to allow a suspect that could have been saved to bleed out till they are really dead…

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