Viewers want to know why Petersburg mother was charged

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) – NBC12 received an overwhelming response from viewers after our story on a mother charged in connection with her daughter's death. Many of you want to know why she faces criminal charges, even though the little girl died from natural causes, and the mother called for help in an effort to save the baby.

It boils down to whether the mother knew, or should have known, the child was in danger and failed to act in a timely manner.

It was around 6:15 Friday evening when 31-year-old Shavonda Turner called 911. She told emergency crews her daughter had a seizure. The little girl died at Southside Regional Medical Center. Turner is charged with felony child neglect.

"A parent should know when a child needs medical attention, but if the parent doesn't know and something happens to the child, the question becomes if they responded reasonably under the circumstances in that particular case," said criminal attorney Devika Davis.

Police say Turner admitted her two year old daughter displayed breathing problems earlier in the day -- but waited to call for help.

"It's a scenario where you knew, or should have known, the conduct you did, or failed to do, is such that an injury is likely to result," said Davis.

The toddler died from a heart defect after she was picked up at the family's home -- at the Crater Inn Motel. It's unclear if Turner knew the child had heart condition prior to the baby's death.

"The first thing that has to be determined is whether or not the mom knew, or should have known, that the child was in danger and willfully failed to act by way of getting medical help or otherwise," Davis said.

Davis says parents who exercise reasonable precautions when their child is sick or injured need not worry. The courts will decide whether Turner responded appropriately or not.

Turner is being held at Riverside Regional Jail without bail.

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