Snellville, GA – A judge ordered a father held without bond on Friday after he left his baby girl in the car to die of the heat outside the police station while he was being arrested.
The incident occurred at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday when 20-year-old Davied Japez McCorry Whatley went to the Snellville Police Department to try to pick up firearms that officers had confiscated during a previous case, WXIA reported.
But while Whatley was meeting with the police department’s “property custodian,” officers took him into custody for a misdemeanor probation violation.
It is standard procedure to conduct a background check before releasing a firearm to make sure the person claiming it does not have a felony conviction, the Daily Mail reported.
Police said the warrant stemmed from a hit-and-run car crash when Whatley did not have insurance, WXIA reported.
Bodycam video released by the police showed that Whatley never told officers that he had left his eight-month-old baby daughter inside his vehicle parked across the street from the police station at City Hall.
Whatley was booked and put into a police vehicle and transported to the jail after he was taken into custody, but the baby – Nova Grace Whatley-Trejo – remained in vehicle in the parking lot, WXIA reported.
The high temperature in the Atlanta area on May 3 was 86 degrees.
Baby Nova was found in the car hours about seven hours later by her grandmother, Leticia Padilla, WAGA reported.
The grandmother rushed the baby to the emergency room at Piedmont Eastside Medical Center, but doctors were not able to revive her and she was pronounced dead, WXIA reported.
The baby’s grandmother told hospital staff that the baby had been left in the car by police after a traffic stop.
Police found Whatley’s car a short time later parked near the trash dumpsters at Snellville City Hall, WAGA reported.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Agent Lisa Vorrasi said Whatley was released on bond for the probation violation on Tuesday night, but officers re-arrested him on Wednesday morning for the baby’s death, the Daily Mail reported.
He has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of eight-month-old Nova, WXIA reported.
In Georgia, second-degree murder means that someone has caused a death while committing second-degree cruelty to children, regardless of their intent, the Daily Mail reported.
If convicted, the 20 year old is facing 10-to-30 years in prison.
Whatley has claimed that he told police that the baby was in his car in the parking lot but bodycam and surveillance video of his arrest proved otherwise, the Daily Mail reported.
Officers said he never once mentioned the baby during his seven hours in custody.
Snellville Police Detective Jeff Manley said that in the 40 minutes between when Whatley was arrested at the police station and when he was turned over to the Gwinnett County jail, bodycam video proved the father never mentioned his eight-month-old daughter, the Daily Mail reported.
“He made no statements as to the fact that his daughter was left in the car two buildings away from the Snellville Police Department,” Det. Manley said.
Whatley’s grandmother has blamed the police, the Daily Mail reported.
“This situation didn’t have to happen,” Padilla said. “All they had to do was listen. They thought he was lying. He told them. He loved his daughter.”
“They can say whatever they want to. They have to cover their tracks,” the grandmother insisted.
The baby’s mother told WXIA in a text message that her little girl lit up a room and she was devastated by her death.
“She had the biggest personality a baby could have,” she said. “She laughed and smiled since she was a month old. She talked to you in her baby language and answered you with noises when you said her name.”