In a baby's death, forgetful mom not prosecuted

Unlike Charlottesville prosecutors who pressed charges against the mother who accidentally, fatally left her child in a car all day, Roanoke has decided not to prosecute an eerily similar case. According to a story in the Roanoke Times, 46-year-old Mary Nelson Parks–- already suffering from the anguish of losing a child to her forgetfulness–- won't have to undergo the additional ordeal (leading to acquittal) that confronted Raelyn Balfour.

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you're right, hoo...thanks for sharing this article. it changed my perception of the balfour case and presented a side of her that was not brought out in local press.

Makes sense doesn't it?

I think that each case must be considered on a case-by-case basis, not as a cookie-cuttered response because the cases may have had common elements. Some cases may warrant prosecution, and others should be ruled accidental deaths. My heart goes out to any family who loses a child for any reason.

If anyone other than the mother of the child did this, including the father, would there be a prosecution? I agree with the decision to not prosecute and felt bad when they did it to the girl in Charlottesville, but its just a question running through my mind...

Good question, Tim. Child abuse is one of the least prosecuted and enforced crimes. Parents literally get away with murder.

I'm not saying that that's the case in either of these cases.

Tim, there's probably no doubt that subconscious biases based on stereotypes guide decision to prosecute or not prosecute. A father might be more likely to be prosecuted because many people believe (wrongly) that men are more emotionally disconnected from their children, etc. I think social class is another of these factors: the middle- or upper-class mother would probably get a more sympathetic reaction than a poor mother. As long as we have human beings running our legal and judicial systems, we're going to face inequities like this, where some people are seen as more culpable and less sympathetic than others.

quote: "I agree with the decision to not prosecute and felt bad when they did it to the girl in Charlottesville..."

Yeah, you and many other local residents. That wasn't Dave Chapman's best moment in office. At least the jury made their feelings known and could effectively veto Dave Chapman's decision.

Last I heard Chapman was contesting the expungement of the girl's record. I wonder how that all turned out in the end? He has a past record of opposing expungements too. A further waste of taxpayer money.

I think anyone who wants to comment on this story should first read this WP story, "Fatal Distraction" by Gene Weingarten: