CINCINNATI (TDB) -- University of Cincinnati law professor Christo Lassiter has joined the chorus of those who say Clermont County's Republican prosecutor seriously screwed up the case of a mom whose two-year-old baked to death in a Mercedes on Aug. 23, the hottest afternoon so far this year. Lassiter is calling on federal authorities to investigate the case and says forgetfulness is no excuse for a parent who leaves a child inside a vehicle with the windows rolled up on a blazing hot summer day.
Lassiter, a former Marine Corps lawyer who handled criminal prosecutions in the military, unleashed his criticism in a guest column for today's Cincinnati Enquirer. The law school professor stopped short of calling Clermont Prosecutor Don White an idiot. Instead, Lassiter described White's explanation for not taking action against the mother of Cecilia Slaby as something akin to legal bunkum.
"White argues that because Nesselroad-Slaby says she forgot she put the baby in the car, she therefore did not disregard a known risk. White's assertion finds no support in recorded cases. A Westlaw search of convictions under R.C. 2919.22 where the child endangering consisted of leaving a child unattended yielded 31 cases sustained on appeal. There is not a single case that I have been able to find in Ohio where the defense of forgetfulness rebutted a finding of recklessness. Nesselroad-Slaby formed a habit of leaving Cecilia unattended, making it a habit to forget about her altogether, and therein lies her recklessness."
Lassiter's faculty biography and list of interests at the University of Cincinnati are available here.