Criminal charges studied in 3 child hot-car deaths - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Criminal charges studied in 3 child hot-car deaths

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Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2003 9:47 am | Updated: 2:11 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Authorities still are assessing whether a Mesa babysitter and a Queen Creek father should face criminal charges in the deaths of three toddlers inside sweltering cars this summer.

A similar case, in which a child was rescued after being left in a car, was resolved this week.

Chuck Teegarden, a Pinal County Attorney’s Office spokesman, said officials are still awaiting autopsy results in the case of Kaitlin Mills, 4, and Samantha Mills, 2, of Queen Creek.

According to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the girls died after locking themselves in a car Aug. 16 for about 45 minutes in the back yard of a home in the 4500 block of East Rolling Ridge Drive.

Their father and grandfather were working on a vehicle in front of the home.

On July 30, Taylin E. Lee, 16 months, died after being left in her babysitter’s van in Mesa.

Police said Gisele Julia Wetzel, 33, was running a day care center out of her residence in the 1100 block of West Madero Avenue.

Authorities believe that after taking her children and four others to a local park, she forgot to remove the baby from a car seat.

The child was found approximately an hour later and attempts to revive her failed.

Mesa police Sgt. Tim Gaffney said the case is under investigation and has not yet been submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

On Monday, the Pima County Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against Maricopa County deputy public defender Tammy Wray-Hawkins, who left her 2-yearold son inside her car on July 12.

Authorities said Wray-Hawkins didn’t know the boy’s father had placed the child in the car and she couldn’t see him from the driver’s seat. The child was rescued by passers-by after 30 minutes and was unharmed.

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