BILLINGS, MONTANA: A 21-year-old mother from Montana has been convicted of negligent homicide in the death of her toddler son’s 2018 hot car death. Ashley Howard was sentenced this week to 20 years in prison according to PEOPLE. On Monday, October 19, just two months after jurors found her responsible for her 2-year-old son’s death, Howard appeared in court for her sentencing, as per court records.
A judge had ruled that Howard would spend the 20 years in jail in the Montana State Women’s Prison in Billings. She has already spent two years in jail and will get credit for the same. Howard had earlier pleaded not guilty to the negligent homicide of her son, Caleb Hopkins, who had been left inside the car on June 2018. According to The Billings Gazette, Howard had left Caleb inside the car on the evening of June 25, 2018, and did not go to take him out until 1 pm the next day. The police revealed that she had spent the night partying with her friends and then slept in the next day due to a hangover. Her son Caleb was left inside her car for around 14 hours, out of which the sun was blazing for 8 of those hours. On June 26, the child was rushed to the hospital where the doctors said that his body temperature was 107 degrees. Heatstroke starts when the body temperatures reach 104 degrees.
While at the hospital, Howard told doctors that she had found Caleb “wrapped in a blanket”. He passed away two days later after he was airlifted to a hospital in Billings and spent the final hours of his life on life support. It was reported that the child had died from hyperthermia caused by overheating.
Prosecutors pointed out at the sentencing that Howard had never taken any responsibility for what had happened to Caleb, KULR-TV reports. Howard addressed in court and said, “I struggle with saying that I killed my son because nobody wants to be the reason their son is no longer here. I miss him every day. I know that I will always love my son and I will always miss him.”
The child’s grandmother, Marsha Hopkins also spoke at the hearing and said, “You will have to live with the fact that you alone killed Caleb. Do I think that you meant to? No. Do I think that you could have prevented it? Absolutely. You knew what could have happened if you left him in the car, and you made that choice.”
After Howard is released, she will have to face ten years on parole.
Many social media users commented on the news in outrage. One such user had shared, “As a mother, this infuriates me. As a friend of knowing someone who has been on an adoption wait list for two years now, this infuriates me even more. People need to wake up and realize that today’s children ARE THE FUTURE OF OUR WORLD.”
Another shared, “My heart bleeds for this little angel. I’d give up any party, any job, any man, anything in this world… Children just have to be loved and protected! They have to be!!!” Yet another added, “She should serve those 20 years in a car with the same temperature that sweet little boy was left in.”
As a mother, this infuriates me. As a friend of knowing someone who has been on an adoption wait list for two years now, this infuriates me even more.
People need to wake up and realize that today’s children ARE THE FUTURE OF OUR WORLD
— Anna Wrenn (@Anna_Wiggins) October 20, 2020
My heart bleeds for this little angel. I’d give up any party, any job, any man, anything in this world… Children just have to be loved and protected! They have to be!!! 😖
— Paola F. (@PaolaFranchin11) October 20, 2020
She should serve those 20 years in a car with the same temperature that sweet little boy was left in. 😞
— Zarina (@me_Zarina_) October 20, 2020