Tennessee mother, 19, who left 8-month-old baby inside defunct freezer in stranger's backyard avoids jail time
19-year-old Britanny Smith seemed to be under the influence of drugs when she was seen carrying her baby in the backyard of a residence on Poplar Hill Drive which is six miles away from her home
A Tennessee mother who was facing felony charges of aggravated child abuse and neglect for placing her eight-month-old baby inside a freezer at the back of a house and then closing the lid while under the influence will not be spending any time behind bars.
The Johnson City Press previously reported that witnesses saw 19-year-old Britanny Smith of 311 Grande View Ext., Johnson City, carrying her baby in the backyard of a residence on Poplar Hill Drive, which is six miles away from her home on Januray 2 and suspected something was wrong.
Deborah Presnell, one of the witnesses, testified that she saw Smith holding the baby at around 3:30 pm that evening and sent her son and grandson to investigate, but that she was already gone by the time they reached the backyard.
When they looked around the scene, they found an eight-month-old baby inside an old inoperable freezer which had one inch of standing water inside it. She said the infant luckily survived.
Presnell told the court they then found Smith under their house in a crawl space and that after taking the teen and her baby inside, she offered to leave the infant with them. "I asked her, 'You want to leave the baby here?' and she said, 'Yes.' I said, 'You're gonna be back now, aren't you?' She said, 'Yes,'" she revealed.
She said the 19-year-old, who appeared to be under influence, left without her baby but that she returned 12 hours later for the child.
She claimed she didn't call 911 or the Department of Child Services because of the 24-hour Good Samaritan law in effect in every state that provides basic legal protection for those who assist a person who is injured or in danger.
"I knew whatever she was on, when she came off she’d come back for the baby," she explained. "But she left. What’s the sense in calling 911. We just got a baby, we don’t have her."
Smith reportedly made her way back for her baby at 4 am the next day, at which point Presnell's son is said to have told her that she was going nowhere until she called her mother. "Either the grandma’s gotta be here or the cops are going to be here. One or the other," Presnell told the court.
While the 19-year-old did call her mother, deputies from the Washington County Sheriff's Office were nonetheless called to the scene, where they promptly arrested the teen and placed the infant into protective custody.
Smith pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of child neglect instead of the aggravated child abuse charges she was facing and was sentenced to two years' probation.