6-year-old girl strangles baby brother to death with seatbelt while dad shopped for clothes; father charged
The 6-year-old daughter told the authorities that she put the seat belt around her brother when he started crying to make him stop
A father in Texas has been charged with child abandonment after his 6-year-old daughter strangled her 1-year-old brother with a seatbelt when he had left them alone in the car to go shopping for more than an hour and half.
The victim of homicide by strangulation was identified as Adrian Middleton Jr. His father, Adrian Dreshaun Middleton, 26, from Houston was arrested last week but was not in police custody as of November 19 in connection with the incident that took place on May 20 in Baytown, Harris County.
Middleton initially told authorities that he gave his children snacks and water, turned up the air conditioning and played a movie for them before he left them alone in the car for only 30 to 45 minutes to go inside the Family Thrift Store in the 12000 block of the East Freeway.
Surveillance cameras in the area, however, show that he was gone between 10:45 a.m. and 12:15 a.m., the Daily Mail reported.
Middleton also claimed to have checked on his children through a store window and assumed they were fine, but according to the video footage the authorities acquired, he did no such thing. The father also said that he had strapped in the children to car seats but then later said he did not have any.
He also said that when he went back to the car in the parking lot to load his car's trunk with his purchases, he found that his daughter was crying and asking to use the bathroom. When he asked her where her brother was, the child said that she "did something bad".
After he saw his toddler's feet through the open trunk, he raced around to the driver side of the car and said that his son had a seatbelt wrapped around his neck. Middleton removed the seatbelt and tried to perform CPR on the child until the emergency responders arrived.
The toddler was pronounced dead later at the Texas Children's Hospital.
The father said that his daughter did not initially tell him what happened when he asked her. She told the authorities later that her brother started crying when Middleton was shopping so she started playing with him to stop the crying. When she stopped playing, however, he started crying again and she became "angry". This led to her tightening the seatbelt around his neck. When the toddler fell unconscious, the girl believed that he had just fallen asleep.
Police officer RC Johnson, who was assigned to the Special Victims Division at the Child Abuse Unit of the Houston Police Department has signed a sworn affidavit with regards to the incident. Johnson visited the hospital and spoke to the father and daughter as well as staff members.
The affidavit stated that the child witness clearly knew the difference between fact and fiction so this made her story of what happened credible and reliable.
The affiant was also told by the father that he had been thrift shopping. The child confirmed that he was buying clothes in her interview with Harris County Children's Assessment Center. Middleton was set to appear in court on November 19.
Prosecutors claimed that Middleton put his toddler son at "an unreasonable risk of harm, namely, and a reasonable person would have believed that such circumstances would place the Complainant in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, physical impairment, and mental impairment.".
It added that the father "did not voluntarily deliver the Complainant to a designated emergency infant care provider" before abandoning his son.
Middleton spoke to ABC 13 and said that he never meant for anything to happen and that it was an accident. The publication also reported that his daughter is currently staying with her grandmother and that CPS offered to help out the family. It is unclear if the family accepted the help. Houston Police have said that the child will not be facing any charges because of her age.