Charlene Sutherland claimed that her children love to read, and that they asked to be dropped off at Barnes and Noble while she ran other errands. District Judge Benjamin Lewis was not convinced.
Sutherland was found guilty on one of six counts of child endangerment for leaving her children alone at a Dothan book store. Sutherland was accused of leaving her 6-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son unattended at Barnes and Noble three days in a row, for several hours each time. But Sutherland argued that point, saying that it was “only an hour or so,” and that her 16-year-old son was there, too. Her 16-year-old, Nigel, testified in court that he was there the first two days with his siblings. All three were on summer break at the time.
On the third day, when he saw that the kids were alone again, store manager Steve Cagle called police to report the situation because he was concerned about the children. He did say, however, that the children were quiet, and that they didn’t cause any problems the three days they were in the store.
Sutherland’s defense attorney pointed out to the court that children are often dropped off by their parents at places like bowling allies, movie theatres, and amusement parks, but Assistant District Attorney Jarrod Blumberg argued that those businesses are meant to accommodate children.
Cases like this are complicated, and no two situations are alike. If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney early in the process. The right lawyer can make all the difference.