Court Cases I WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Mother in Daughter's Hot Car Death Case Sentenced to 15 Years

By: WCTV Staff; Lanetra Bennett; Julie Montanaro, Angelica Alvarez Email
By: WCTV Staff; Lanetra Bennett; Julie Montanaro, Angelica Alvarez Email

[UPDATE] Tallahassee, Florida - January 23, 2012 9:36pm

A mother is sentenced to 15 years for the death of her six month old. In the summer of 2010, Monique Andre left the child in the car on a sweltering Tallahassee Day. Tallahassee police say the temperature inside the car reached 130 degrees that day.

As tears streamed down her face, Andre recalled the abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of her own mother. Her defense attorney painted a picture for the judge, that his client suffers from depression due to long-term abuse and the death of her own child, Zariah.

The prosecution implied that Andre had a motive to want Zariah out of the picture, to make room for a man who didn't want children.

In September 2010, Andre left Zariah in the backseat of her car while she went inside to use a friend's computer at Sweet Bay Apartments. When she came back, two hours later, witnesses for the prosecution say Andre found Zariah panting and sweating, covered in her own vomit. Andre cleaned up the child, then went to Comcast to run an errand. Witnesses there say the child looked ill.

And yet, Andre ran another errand before returning the child to her father, who then decided to take the infant to the hospital.

Zariah died four days later from brain injuries she suffered from exposure to extreme heat. Andre faced more than four decades behind bars for the crime, but in the end found the judge decided on 15 years.

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[UPDATE] Tallahassee, Florida - January 23, 2012 - 5pm

Monique Andre has been sentenced to 15 years. Andre had left her child in a hot car for hours that led to the child's death in September 2010.

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[UPDATE] Tallahassee, Florida - January 23, 2012 - 4:13pm

Zariah's aunt, who is the father's sister, says Monique Andre was not remorseful about her daughters death in the days following the incident where she left her child in a hot car for hours in September 2010. She recalls watching her niece slip away in the hospital for four days after being left in the car.

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[UPDATE] Tallahassee, Florida - January 23, 2012 -

Defense asked for sentence of 36 months. Prosecution has called its first witness. Zariah's aunt.

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[UPDATE] Tallahassee, Florida - January 23, 2012 -

Monique Andre is on the stand giving her side of the story about what happened the day Zariah died. She is speaking after her brother and father addressed the court in her defense in her sentencing hearing.

She claims to have forgotten the child in the car because she was trying to change the child's sleep schedule and did not normally have her during that time of day. Prosecution pointed out to the court that during Andre's entire testimony she did not say her daughters name once.

Earlier, Andres father and brother confirmed that she suffered abuse at the hands of her mother. The therapist who testified at the start of the hearing says Andre suffers from depressive disorder. But when asked by the prosecution if she knew the difference between right and wrong, he answered yes.

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[UPDATE] Tallahassee, Florida - January 23, 2012 -

Sentencing is underway for Monique Andre. She is the mother who left her six month old baby, Zariah in the car for hours on a hot Tallahassee day in September 2010.

The hearing started promptly at 3pm. At this time the defense has called on the therapist who spoke with her more than a year after the incident to address her state of mind. He is testifying on her behalf saying that she does feel remorse over what happened to Zariah. He also read a statement from his notes of Andre apologizing for what happened to the father and his family.

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[UPDATE] Tallahassee, Florida - January 23, 2012 -

A woman accused of leaving her baby in a hot car for hours will be sentenced in the child's death this afternoon.

Monique Andre has already pleaded no contest to aggravated manslaughter and child neglect in the death of 6-month-old Zariah.

Tallahassee Police say Andre left the baby in the car for more than two hours while visiting a friend and running errands in September 2010.

Andre faces up to 45 years in prison. She'll be sentenced at 3:00 this afternoon.

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UPDATED 9.28.11 7pm by Julie Montanaro

A Tallahassee woman accused in the death of her own daughter entered a plea just days before trial.

Monique Andre is accused of leaving her six month old baby in a hot car last September. It's a decision that cost her daughter her life.

Monique Andre faced the judge in a blue jail jumpsuit and handcuffs. She plead no contest to aggravated manslaughter and child neglect. She could face up to 45 years for it.

"I hope that she gets somewhere in the middle range or the max," said Zariah's aunt Antisha Williams. "I have two children and I would never leave my kids in the car for two hours. There's no way you can forget about them and leave them in the car with the windows up alone and go in the house and go on Facebook," Williams said.

Little Zariah was left in a hot car for more than two hours while Andre visited a friend at the Sweet Bay apartment complex last September.

Police estimated the temperature inside the car at 130 degrees.

"Rather than taking the child to the hospital for immediate treatment upon discovering that this had occurred, the defendant chose to instead go to Comcast where she made changes to her cable bill," prosecutor Georgia Cappleman told the judge.

Kari Jacobsen saw the baby in distress that day at Comcast and is anxious to see how long Andre's sentence will be.

"I don't know how that lady lives everyday basically knowing she killed her child," Jacobsen said. "I go to bed every night and when I close my eyes I can see that child at Comcast that day and it tears me up inside."

There were many family members in court today. They say they are devastated by Zariah's death and think of her each time they get in to a hot car.

Monique Andre's sentencing is set for November 16.
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Tallahassee, Florida - September 28, 2011 - by Julie Montanaro

Monique Andre has just entered a no contest plea to charges of aggravated manslaughter and child neglect.

Andre faces up to 45 years in prison for the felonies.

Andre's attorney has asked the court to set a sentencing date in November.

Andre is accused in the death of her 6 month old daughter Zariah Williams. Williams died after she was left alone in a hot car for more than two hours in September 2010.

Monique Andre is scheduled to be sentenced November 16th.

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UPDATED 6.14.2011 by Julie Montanaro

A Tallahassee woman accused of leaving her baby in a hot car for hours will soon stand trial for it.

Monique Andre is accused of aggravated manslaughter in the death of her 6 month old daughter Zariah.

Police reports indicate Andre left the baby in a car for more than two hours while she visited a friend. That happened last September.

At a hearing this afternoon, a judge set a trial date of September 6, 2011.

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*** UPDATE 9-17-2010 7:00 PM ***

The family is preparing to bury a six month old baby who died after being left in a hot car last week.
Zariah Williams will be laid to rest at 10 o'clock Saturday morning (9-18-2010) at Christian Heritage Church on Sharer Road in Tallahassee.
Police say, her mother, 25 year old Monique Andre left baby Zariah in her car for more than two hours while she visited a friend at the Sweet Bay Club Apartments.
Andre is currently in the Leon County Jail on a $250,000 bond.
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Updated 9/9 7:04 pm
Authorities say preliminary testing on a baby that died after being left in a hot car last week was consistent with exposure to heat.

One woman who says she saw the six month old before the baby was hospitalized says it was clear the baby was in distress.

Police say six month old Zariah Williams was left in a car for two hours last Thursday.

What's really troubling a lot of people is that 25-year-old Monique Andre brought her baby to run errands at Comcast afterward and not the hospital, especially when it was obvious that something was wrong with the child.

"It was one of those images that will never ever leave my brain." Said, Tallahassee resident Kari Jacobsen.

Jacobsen says when she walked into Comcast Cable Company last Thursday, she couldn't help but notice a woman with her baby.

Jacobsen said, "You could just see the baby was in severe distress even then. The baby was ashen, the eyes were already sunk in the back in the head. The baby couldn't hold its own head up."

Jacobsen didn't know that six-month-old Zariah Williams had just been closed up in a car in temperatures potentially reaching 134 degrees just before Jacobsen saw her.

Police say 25-year-old Monique Andre left her baby in the car while visiting a friend, and say that visit was more than two hours long.

The probable cause shows that after Andre realized she'd left Zariah in the car, she turned on the air conditioning, then drove on to Comcast.

Jacobsen recalls what Andre said. "She was like, if you don't stop acting like this, I'm going to have to take you to the hospital and they're going to have to watch you for a couple of days. But, she wouldn't get any help."

Jacobsen says she was so disturbed, that she called her husband.

Carl Jacobsen said, "It took us four and a half years to have our child. When you hear other parents that do stuff like that to their kids, abuse them in any way, it's sad."

It was Jacobsen's husband that told her that baby Zariah died five days later in the hospital.

"I literally sat there and balled in tears because I felt like I could've done something if I'd just called the police, or done anything."

Jacobsen says Andre did ask a teller for a bottle of water for the baby but says Zariah didn't drink it.

Jacobsen says she was at Comcast for 30 minutes and Andre was already there and still there when she left.

Authorities say an autopsy on the baby may take 60 to 90 days.

Andre is still in jail on $250,000 bond.

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Updated 9/8 6:40 pm by Lanetra Bennett

Bond is set for the Tallahassee woman accused in the death of her six-month-old baby.

Police say she left the child in a scorching hot car for hours, and Wednesday, she faced a judge on aggravated manslaughter charges.

Authorities say that Monique Andre smiled when her friend said that she'd lied for her. But, residents say there's nothing funny about a child's death.

The friend eventually came clean about how long the baby was left alone in that hot car.

Zariah Williams' family wasn't ready to talk or be seen on camera. But, the six-month-old baby girl's grandfather let us show her picture and his arm where her name is tattooed.

Our camera was the only one to show Zariah's mother, 25-year-old Monique Andre, who had her first court appearance via video link Wednesday.

Andre is charged with Zariah's death.

The judge set bond at $250,000.

Police say on Thursday, Andre left her baby in the car while she visited her friend at Sweet Bay Club Apartments in Tallahassee.

Authorities say the windows were up, and the car was off while Zariah sat there for about two and a half hours.

Officers say it may have been up to 134 degrees inside that vehicle.

One Tallahassee resident and mother of three, Tiffany Jones, said, "You got out of the car, you should've taken your baby out of the car. That's being a mother and a person. So, she was wrong."

The probable cause shows Andre says she meant to stay at her friend's only for a few minutes, and when she got back and realized she'd forgotten Zariah, she "blasted the A/C."

But, it says Andre still ran an errand to Comcast Cable Company as Zariah began vomiting, sweating profusely, and breathing erratically.

The document says when she got home, the baby's father said Zariah was limp; and Andre replied, "She will be fine."

They took the baby to the hospital and Zariah died Tuesday.

Tallahassee resident Ashley Footman is a mother of four. She said, "That's a lot of pain. Sometimes it's indescribable the pain that I feel for that baby."

Zariah's grandmother told me that she refuses to believe that Andre did this on purpose, and says that the family is praying for Andre.

Family members say Zariah's father is taking this pretty hard.

Police say they checked Andre's vehicle, and the air conditioning was functioning properly. Therefore, at this time, we do not know why Andre didn't at least leave the vehicle running for the baby.

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UPDATED 9.8.2010 10:30am by Lanetra Bennett

Monique Andre made her first appearance before a judge Wednesday morning via videolink from the jail. Andre rested her chin in her hands and answered the judge's questions, but didn't say much more.

Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richardson set bond at $250,000 and ordered Andre to have no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16.

Andre was also appointed a public defender.

A woman identified as Zariah Williams' godmother attended the court hearing, but did not address the court and refused our request for an interview afterward.

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updated 9.7.2010

A six month old baby is dead after Tallahassee police say her mother left her in a hot car for more than two hours.

That child has been identified as 6 month old Zariah Williams. Officials say she clung to life after being in a car where temperatures could have reached 134 degrees. This morning the baby girl was taken off life support. I talked to neighbors who say they can't believe it happened just feet away from their door step.

25 year old Monique Andre is behind bars charged with aggravated manslaughter in her daughter's death. Authorities say the child began dying in this parking lot at the Sweet Bay Club apartments on Thursday as her mother visited a friend .

Neighbors who live in the complex say they can't believe a baby was dying just feet away from where they live.

"It breaks my heart to know that someone could forget about your child. First of all I wouldn't leave with out my child being one the first things I grab," said Jasmine Woods.

Tallahassee Police investigators say six month old Zariah Williams was in the car for about two hours and the temperatures could have peaked at 134 degrees.

"When I heard about it it was shocking how you can leave your baby out there unattended for two hours," Tyreece Brown said.

The friend told police she didn't know the baby was in the car and while they visited Andre was taking pictures of herself and uploading them on facebook.

"Being that you're in Florida, and it's hot, it's always hot, you should know that it gets over heated real fast," Alfonso Jones said. "That's a bad way to die. That's a bad way to die, you know what I mean not even knowing...helpless."

"All you can do is pray that she feels as bad about this as everyone else does," he said.

Officials say an autopsy will be performed on Wednesday, however they believe Zariah died from brain injuries as a result of being left in the car.

Neighbors tell us Zariah was an adorable little girl and even though she wasn't here long, they could tell how sweet she may have become. Her mother Monique Andre remains in police custody and will appear before a judge tomorrow.
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Tallahassee, FL - Tallahassee Police arrest Monique Andre, 25, after police say she leaves her 6-month old child unattended in a car for more than two hours which leads to the child's death.

The initial incident happened on Friday September 3, when TPD responded to a call at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital in reference to a sick 6-month old child. Investigators say that Andre left the child unattended in a vehicle for more than two hours on Friday which led the child to feel ill from heat exhaustion. The child died this morning from its illness.
TPD arrested Monique Andre for aggravated manslaughter.

WCTV has included the TPD press release and the probable cause affidavit.


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