Mother Accused of Leaving Child in Car With Heater on While She Drank Is Charged With Murder

October 3, 2019 Updated: October 3, 2019

The woman whose 2-year-old daughter died after being left in a car overnight with the heating on while she drank, then fell asleep, has been charged with her murder.

Lacey Mazzarella, 34, was taken into custody in Los Angeles County on Oct. 2 and booked on suspicion of murder, said the sheriff’s department, according to KTLA.

Mazzarella reportedly told investigators that around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 22 she had got into a nearby car to drink alcohol with a friend, leaving her daughter buckled in with a blanket on her lap and the heater running.

She fell asleep then woke up around 5 a.m. Checking on her daughter, she found her unresponsive.

“Vomit was present on her shirt and the car seat. Skin was coming off the decedent’s back,” the coroner’s report said, according to KTLA. “[The mother] places her on the grass and sprayed her with the water hose in an attempt to cool her down.”

Paramedics rushed her to a nearby hospital, but could not save her.

Paramedics noted apparent burn marks on the girls face, chest, and arms, as well as cloudiness in her eyes. “Her temperature upon arrival was 107.5 degrees,” the coroner’s report said.

The coroner has ruled the toddler’s death as an accident versus homicide while it is still being investigated, reported Fox 11.

The cause of death has yet to be determined pending the results of further forensic tests, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

Los Angeles County jail records confirm Mazzarella was arrested and charged at about 8 p.m. on Oct. 2, and is on a $1 million bail. Jail records show only that she was arrested on a felony charge. She is due in court on Oct. 4 in the morning.

The family has set up a crowdfunding appeal online to help with funeral costs.

“June was just 2 years old, full of life and loved by so many,” wrote Rosie Vargas-Charneco on the GoFundMe site which she set up for her cousin, who is the girl’s father. “Unfortunately, a tragedy occurred and beautiful June has become an angel in heaven. Any donation is greatly appreciated.”

Investigators learned the mother had a history of drug abuse, according to Fox 11, but said she had gone through rehabilitation. She has a 9-year-old son who was adopted by a relative when he was 3 after she was arrested for cocaine possession.

“She’s my only grandchild,” grandmother Helen Hernandez told Fox 11. “I just came out here and June celebrated her second birthday. June Love was a beautiful baby, she deserved a good life. She deserved to grow up, go to school.”

“Our family is broken, we just need prayers and we’re just broken,” said godmother Jessica Peterson-Burns.

Follow Simon on Twitter: @SPVeazey
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