Doubt raised in case of mom accused of putting son in trunk

Posted at 3:08 PM, January 14, 2022 and last updated 9:52 PM, July 18, 2023

HOUSTON (AP) — A judge has found no probable cause to support a charge a Houston mother faces after being accused of placing her 13-year-old son in the trunk of her car in an attempt to isolate him after he tested positive for COVID-19.

The 41-year-old mother had been charged by prosecutors with endangering a child, a felony. Authorities allege her son was found Jan. 3 in her car’s trunk at a drive-thru testing site for the Cypress-Fairbanks school district at a stadium in northwest Houston.

But during a court hearing Thursday, state District Judge Chris Morton ruled prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to support the charge.

The judge’s decision did not mean the end of the case, however, as prosecutors will have to decide whether to dismiss the charge or continue investigating.

“We will review all the evidence gathered by police and make a determination on how to proceed, including the possibility of presenting this case to a grand jury,” Dane Schiller, a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, said in a statement.

“(The mother) stated that she put (her son) inside the trunk to prevent her from getting exposed to possible COVID while driving (him) to the stadium for additional testing,” according to a court document.

After the court hearing, the woman’s attorney, Nathaniel Pitoniak, told reporters he disputed the allegations made in the court document.

“But even if they had been true, the judge has acknowledged with his finding that my client did not place her child in imminent danger of bodily injury,” he said.

The woman is a teacher with the Cypress-Fairbanks school district, which said in a statement that the child was not harmed. The district has said she is on administrative leave.

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