Afterward, defense attorney Perry Hudson consoled the woman’s family outside the courtroom.
“I respect the jury’s decision, but I’m terribly disappointed,” Hudson told
During the trial, the attorney contended the baby’s death was a “tragic accident, not a crime.”
During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Lori McConnell said, “It’s a tragedy, but don’t confuse that with an accident.”
The prosecutor alleged a series of negligent actions by Gonzales ultimately led to the death of her child, Ashanti Hunt.
Before leaving for the nail salon, Gonzales’ 16-year-old daughter, Atavia Robinson, asked if they were taking Ashanti with them to the nail salon, the daughter testified. Gonzales, who was on the phone when asked, nodded, “Yes.” Gonzales’ attorney contended the mother was distracted when asked.
Gonzales testified during the trial. She said when she left the house, she didn’t see Ashanti with the other children but assumed the infant was in another room, McConnell told the jurors. The prosecutor said Gonzales left the house “knowing she never laid eyes on her child.”
Prosecutors also noted that Gonzales didn’t check in with her younger children who were left at the house while she was at the nail salon. At least three other female siblings were left, the oldest being 12 at the time, according to testimony.
Robinson, now 18, told jurors she forgot she put Ashanti in the vehicle. The baby was asleep, not making any noise and placed behind the driver’s
seat, she said. Gonzales’ attorney contended the daughter forgot about Ashanti because of being excited to get her nails done.
Gonzales and Robinson didn’t realize the baby had been left in the vehicle until after arriving back home from the nail salon, prosecutors said. The baby was pronounced dead at a hospital that afternoon.
Emergency responders testified the baby was unresponsive and “very hot” to the touch. The
baby’s core body temperature reached 110 degrees, causing her death, according to prosecutors.
Gonzales initially told police she brought her baby into the nail salon with her, police reported. She also said Ashanti was left in the vehicle about 20 minutes with the air conditioning on after returning home, police reported.
Gonzales later admitted she lied during her initial interview with police, according to prosecutors.