‘Tragic case’ : Tallahassee judge dismisses charges against mother accused in hot car death

Tia Washington was facing aggravated manslaughter charges in her 11-month-old’s death
Charges dropped against mother accused in hot car death
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 8:04 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 2, 2023 at 3:23 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A judge has dismissed the charges against a Tallahassee mother whose son died after being left in a hot car last summer.

Tia Washington was facing aggravated manslaughter charges in the July 19, 2022, death of her 11-month-old son Karohn Jean-Baptiste. Washington left him strapped into his car seat as she worked her shift at Big Bend Hospice, discovering him unresponsive when she returned to her car more than six hours later.

Circuit Judge Jon Sjostrom issued an order dismissing the charges Friday afternoon.

“The defendant mother made no conscious decision to leave the child in the car unattended. There was no warning of a flaw in her routine that she intentionally, recklessly or irresponsibly ignored the child’s obvious peril,” the judge wrote. “This is a single, unaggravated and inadvertent act of negligence despite the tragedy of the consequence.”

Washington’s attorney, Adam Komisar, shared news of the dismissal soon after it was filed.

“We are thankful for the former Chief Judge’s well reasoned decision and hopeful the State respects the court’s analysis and does not appeal the ruling,” Komisar said. “This entire case is a tragedy.”

The judge’s order said there was no suggestion that Washington had ever intentionally left the child unattended before and noted her varying morning routine.

“She dropped her older child off at an elementary school every day; some, but not all, days she then dropped off her infant child at a daycare before proceeding to work, and on other days the infant’s father had care of the child so that the mother drove straight from the elementary school to her workplace,” the judge wrote.

The final page of the 8-page order does point to a separate Florida statute that makes it a crime to leave a child unattended in a car for more than 15 minutes, which is a felony if the child is harmed, but that was not the charge levelled against Washington.

“This was always a difficult case,” State Attorney Jack Campbell said Monday. “I am respectful of the Court’s decision and thoughtful analysis. We are now talking to the child’s family, considering our legal options and trying to clarify what the law is in tragedies like this.”

A hearing to discuss what will happen next is set for Wednesday, Oct. 4, court records show.

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