The father of a newborn baby, who died from heat-related injuries last August, claims a mental evaluation that says he is competent to stand trial in his daughter’s death is erroneous.
“He’s fighting the determination,” said First Assistant District Attorney Heather Cooper following Tuesday’s preliminary conference with defense attorneys for Christopher Randolph and his wife, Angela.
Randolph’s claim he is incompetent detours the child neglect case, at least temporarily. Cooper said a hearing to determine the state of the 28-year-old man’s mental capacity is set for March 10. If the court rules the competency determination is valid, the case reverts to the question of whether Randolph will exercise his rights to a preliminary hearing.
Meanwhile, the question of preliminary hearing for Randolph’s wife also remains a question mark.
“Her case was continued to March 25,” Cooper said.
The couple is charged with wedging their infant, Hannah, inside their car and surrounding her with a mattress, trash, food and numerous other items in approximate 100-degree weather and while the car had no air conditioning and only one functional window. The newborn was discovered not breathing when the couple stopped at a local convenience store en route from Ohio to Ringling.
Their 15-month-old son was also in the car. The toddler, who was seated near the window, was not injured. He was turned over to the custody of the Department of Human Services child welfare workers.
Ironically, the couple lost parental rights to two older children in 2010, and apparently had left Columbus, Ohio to escape a child neglect case that had been opened against them just days earlier. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Franklin County, Ohio Children Services spokesman Bruce Cadwallader confirmed his agency received a report July 16 that the Randolph children were being neglected while the family stayed with a relative in Columbus. Randolph and his wife reportedly told caseworkers July 25 that they were relocating to Oklahoma on Aug. 1. The baby died Aug. 5.
Detective Billy Turner, Ardmore Police Department Criminal Investigation Division, led the investigation that resulted in the charge against both Randolph and his wife. The couple had been detained at the Carter County Detention Center since their arrest shortly after the child was found deceased.
A bond reduction hearing was conducted last month. The pair posted bond as a result of that hearing and remains free pending the outcome of the case.