'People take better care of their pets': Judge rebukes mother who left children to die in hot car while she partied
A Texas woman who was accused of being responsible for the death of her two children after leaving them inside a hot vehicle for 15 hours was sentenced to 40 years behind bars. Presiding judge Keith Williams handed down four sentences of 20 years each, with two sets of them running concurrently, after Amanda Hawkins had previously pleaded guilty to two felony counts of abandoning or endangering a child causing imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment, and two counts of injury to a child.
According to Hill Country Breaking News, Williams chastized Hawkins while handing out the sentencing, telling her he would have given her more of a range of punishment if it were possible. "Those precious little girls would still be here today if this had not happened," he was quoted saying. "People in our community take better care of their pets than you took care of your kids."
Her charges stemmed from the deaths of her two daughters, one-year-old Brynn Hawkins and two-year-old Addyson Overgard-Eddy, in June 2017. She reportedly drove with the two toddlers to a friend's house in Kerrville and left them in the vehicle overnight while she smoked marijuana with several other people inside a shed.
She is said to have even taken the two children out of the vehicle and brought them to the shed where they were smoking marijuana before then taking them back to the vehicle. When someone later heard the girls crying and asked Hawkins, then 19, if they wanted to come, she declined. In an interview, Kerr County Sheriff W.R. "Rusty" Hierholzer revealed, "She [Hawkins] said, ‘No, it’s fine. They’ll cry themselves to sleep.'"
At around noon the next day, after allegedly having sex with a boy at the party, Hawkins finally got to her girls and found them unconscious. They had been inside for around 15 hours and without food or water since 2:30 am But instead of rushing them to the hospital — she feared she would be jailed — she instead bathed them before seeking medical help.
Authorities said the outside temperatures rose to the high 80s during that particular day and that the two girls were in a "grave condition" by the time they reached a medical center. Hierholzer called the case the "most horrific case of child endangerment" he had seen in his 37 years in law enforcement.
When confronted, Hawkins spun a tale about how Addyson and Brynn were smelling flowers at a park in Kerrville when they started to get "stumbly" and their faces turned red. The story unraveled after investigators talked to Kevin Franke, a teenager at the gathering who later slept in the car that night and, critically, turned off the engine and rolled the windows up before leaving without realizing the toddlers were in the car.
Franke, now 18, was originally charged with manslaughter and abandonment but has reportedly seen those charges upgraded to first-degree murder. He will be tried as an adult, with his trial scheduled to begin on January 22 next year.