Indiana woman gets 30 years for death of son, 2, in hot car

"Courtroom Gavel" by Joe Gratz, public domain

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP): A central Indiana woman whose 2-year-old son died after he climbed into a hot car and couldn’t get out has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to neglect.

A Delaware County judge sentenced Britni Nicole Wihebrink, 30, on Wednesday to the longest prison term she had faced under her plea agreement, The Star Press reported.

The Daleville woman pleaded guilty in June to neglect of a dependent resulting in death in the Jaxon Stults’ September 2018 death.

Wihebrink was intoxicated when her son left their apartment and climbed into her car, parked outside, authorities said. An autopsy found he died as result of the high temperatures he encountered during the several hours he apparently spent inside the vehicle.

Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman said Wihebrink had a substance abuse issue she did nothing to address before her son’s death, saying she “chose to get drunk, so drunk that she passed out.”

“She left her 2-year-old son to fend for himself. He put his rain boots on and like most 2-year-olds, on the wrong feet, and somehow and for some reason got into the back seat of the defendant’s car, sealing his fate. He couldn’t get out and died from the heat,” he said.

Defense attorney Steven Bruce said that a primary reason Wihebrink pleaded guilty was to guarantee that her older child would not have to testify in court about his younger brother’s death.

Wihebrink expressed remorse for her son’s death during Wednesday’s sentencing.

“If I could go back in time and change anything, I would,” she said.


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