The parents of a newborn baby, who died from heat-related injuries in August 2013, made formal arraignment appearances Wednesday in Carter County District Court, saying they were innocent of charges they neglected their baby girl to death.
First Assistant District Attorney Heather Cooper, who is prosecuting the case against Christopher and Angela Randolph, said the parents’ court appearance was routine.
“Nothing unusual happened. They entered not guilty pleas and asked to be placed on the July docket call. They were set on the docket call at 10:30 a.m. July 30. The trial docket will begin August 11,” Cooper said.
Special District Judge Thomas Baldwin ordered the couple bound over for trial May 1 following a preliminary hearing into the death of 23-day-old Hannah. The bind-over-for-trial ruling came after Christopher Randolph’s allegations that he was incompetent to stand trial failed during court proceedings in March. Ironically, the August trial docket begins just days after the one-year anniversary of when the infant was discovered not breathing outside an Ardmore convenience store.
The charge accuses the 28-year-old father and 26-year-old mother of placing the baby in a car without air conditioning and only one operating window while temperatures hovered in the 100-degree range. The charge further alleges the infant was placed in a back-facing car seat in front of the vehicle’s sun-drenched rear window, and then surrounded by a mattress, trash, food and numerous other items. Preliminary hearing evidence included information that the couple, who were traveling from Ohio to Ringling, had stopped multiple times to make sure their dog had water, but had not shown the same concern for the baby girl. Other evidence concerned the condition of the baby when the parents claim to have discovered she was no longer breathing.
The Randolphs’ 15-month-old son, who was seated next to the only functioning window in the car, was taken into protective custody at the time the baby was discovered deceased. Reports suggest the little boy was not seriously injured due to his location next to the open window. Although the couple is currently free on $15,000 bonds, their son has not been returned to their custody.
This is not the first time the couple’s ability to parent has been scrutinized. Documents obtained from The Columbus Dispatch show a Delaware County, Ohio, court permanently removed two older children from the couple’s custody in 2010 after it was determined they were unfit to raise the siblings. And just days before the baby girl died in Ardmore, Franklin County, Ohio, Children’s Services caseworkers opened an investigation concerning allegations the Randolphs were neglecting the infant and toddler. Bruce Cadwallader, spokesperson for the agency, said nothing was found to warrant the removal of the children during a full inspection July 25. Cadwallader said while the case remained open the couple told caseworkers they were moving to Oklahoma Aug. 1.