Mother pleads guilty to leaving baby in hot car

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, June 26, 2007

An Aiken County mother accused of leaving her baby in a hot car while she went to work pled guilty in court today and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

15-month-old Zachary Friar died of heat stroke last April after being left in his mother's car for nine hours while she went to work. Karla Edwards had nothing to say to the judge today when she pled guilty to charges of homicide by child abuse. The solicitor told the courtroom Edwards clocked into work at the Lowe's in Aiken on April 4th just before 8 a.m. and clocked out just after 4 p.m. But the call to 911 wasn't made until nearly 2 hours later.

Aiken County investigators say they got conflicting statements from Edwards about what happened that day. Initially she told deputies she was driving around and went to the Bi-Lo in Clearwater to get groceries and to meet a client, never telling authorities she worked at Lowe's.

After deputies questioned the father of the child, police then learned the sequence of events. She told deputies she went to check on her baby just after 1 p.m. to give him some juice and noted he was fine and when she came out at 4 p.m. she said the baby wasn't breathing. She then continued to drive to the Bi-Lo in Clearwater and on the way there she said the baby was screaming so she turned up the radio as loud as she could to drown out his cries. It was then she told deputies a different time that was when she learned her baby wasn't breathing.

Medical examiners learned the baby's internal body temperature was 104 degrees. The solicitor says that day the temperature reached a high of 75 degrees outside with a low in the mid 40's.

The father of the child was not in court. The couple was never married.

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