By: Kylie McGivern
HARDEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFTS) — On Thursday, a Hardee County judge granted a motion to allow Tracey Nix to go to an inpatient mental health facility outside of the county — in St. Cloud, Florida.
Tracey’s husband of 41 years, Ney Nix, spoke at the hearing, saying his wife hasn’t talked about what happened after she forgot their 7-month-old granddaughter Uriel Schock in the back seat of her car in November 2022.
“I would just like to see her get help and would like to see her come back to whatever normal will be,” Ney said.
Tracey, a former school principal in Hardee County, is charged with aggravated manslaughter in Uriel’s death.
Throughout the hearing, Kaila Nix, Tracey and Ney’s daughter and Uriel’s mother, looked on in tears while holding Uriel’s father Drew Schock’s hand.
Tracey’s attorney Drew Davis said his client was having a “greatly difficult time” discussing what happened not only with her husband but with her attorneys, making it difficult to prepare for trial.
Last year, Tracey, 65, told a Hardee County detective that after she drove home from lunch with friends on November 22, she “just forgot” about Uriel. It wasn’t until one of Tracey’s grandsons arrived at her house, the complaint affidavit said, that “all of a sudden” it “came across her head” that Uriel had been in the SUV all afternoon.
Less than a year earlier, in December 2021, Uriel’s 16-month-old brother Ezra also died while he was at his grandmother Tracey’s home. He drowned in a nearby pond.
“I want justice for my son. I want justice because he didn’t get that. And now I got to sit here and expose this. That way, I don’t let what happened to my son happen with my daughter. And just get off scot-free because I couldn’t live with that as a parent,” Drew Schock told WFTS last month.
In a statement, the State Attorney’s Office told WFTS, “In cases involving the accidental drowning of a toddler, Florida appellate courts have stated that a one-time lapse of judgment would not establish culpable negligence of the caretaker. (However, if the caretaker was shown to have repeatedly allowed the toddler access to the water hazard and not taken steps to prevent, that would establish culpable negligence). In the 2021 incident, there was insufficient evidence to establish culpable negligence. The 2022 incident is factually distinguishable and charges have been filed.”
“I know you’ve heard sometimes people have been struck by lightning two different times. And that’s the way I look at this case,” William Fletcher, Tracey’s other attorney, told the I-Team last month.
Fletcher said, moving forward, the jury should focus on the facts of this one case.
“Looking at what really happened, as far as Uriel, the baby girl,” Fletcher said. “And deciding, is this culpable negligence?”
The plan is for Tracey to be admitted to The Blackberry Center in St. Cloud for inpatient treatment on April 28 for 30 days.
The judge’s concern was that she could check herself out at any time. But pre-trial release agreed to call the treatment center every day, including on weekends, to make sure she is still there.
Tracey did not speak and kept her head down for most of the hearing.
At the end, Kaila went up to her mother, who she has not spoken with since Tracey was charged in her daughter’s death, and hugged her, crying. She then went up her father and gave him a hug.
WFTS contacted Kaila after the hearing and she said, “I chose to hug her to say goodbye to my mother because things are too far gone, and so while it might’ve looked as a hug of support, I don’t know when and if I will ever touch or look or be near her in such a way again. So I treated her like I treated my son as I removed him off of life support. I hugged her and I told her that I loved her regardless because I knew it was goodbye. I knew it was goodbye.”
The next pretrial hearing is scheduled for June 22.
This story was originally published on April 27, 2023, by WFTS in Tampa, an E.W. Scripps Company.