A Georgia mother whose 1-year-old daughter died in a hot car while she was in a salon getting her hair done last June, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, Jan. 31, to a second-degree murder charge.
The mother, Dijanelle Fowler, 25, received a 20-year sentence, 15 years of which must be spent in prison, the Atlanta Journal-Consitution reported.
During her court appearance on Wednesday, she broke down as she pleaded guilty to the charges.
“God blessed me to have a little girl, and that little girl became my everything,” Fowler told the judge, according to WSB-TV.
In the June incident, she left her daughter in the car for over five hours in Dekalb County, Georgia, while she was in the LaVista Road hair salon.
Judge Linda Hunter believed she was a good mother who had made a horrible mistake.
“This has been indicted as gross negligence. The state has never said this was an intentional killing,” Hunter said in court, WSB-TV reported.
But the father of baby Skylar Fowler, Louis Williams, painted a different picture.
He told the court that Fowler was a poor mother who refused to take proper responsibility for her crime.
“To see a mother who showed very little remorse, who lied, so many times,” Williams said, according to WSB-TV.
DeKalb Co. Judge Hunter sentences Dijanelle Fowler to serve 15 years in the August 2017 death of her year-old daughter, Skyler. She left Skyler in a car for 6 hours while she got her hair done. @wsbradio pic.twitter.com/WMGD4L4F0G
— Veronica Waters (@MissVWaters) January 31, 2018
However, Fowler told the judge she understood that she deserved the punishment.
She also had a message to the father’s family.
“If I could trade my life right now to have her here, even just for a day, I would,” Fowler said, according to WSB-TV. “And any person inside or outside this courtroom that tries to deny the love I had for my daughter did not know me and did not know the relationship that I had with her.”
At the time of the incident, Dekalb County Police said Fowler gave them three different statements about the events that occurred, FOX5 Atlanta reported.
Security footage showed Fowler calmy approaching her car. She did not seem visibly panicked when she asked a salon employee to help jumpstart her vehicle.
However, while the car was being jump-started, she searched online for “sigs of a seizure” and also started calling and texting her godfather to say that she was not feeling well.
Williams believes Fowler left Skylar in the car intentionally.
“I still believe this was intentional because of the type person DJ is. She is very smart and she is not forgetful,” Williams told FOX5 Atlanta on Tuesday.