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Mom pleads not guilty to leaving toddler in a car alone while shopping at Walmart

Shawntell Tennell Barlow, 41, of Battle Creek, was arrested Thanksgiving Day after police were notified of the toddler in the car alone at the Walmart at Harper Village in Emmet Township. (Contributed)

A woman who spent an hour shopping in Walmart while her 3-year-old remained in a locked car in the parking lot pleaded not guilty to the charges this morning, but only after a judge threatened her with a bench warrant because she at first declined to enter the courtroom for the hearing.

Shawntell Barlow, 41, of Battle Creek, was arrested Thanksgiving Day after police were notified of the toddler in the car alone at the Walmart at Harper Village in Emmet Township.

She was arraigned Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, on a misdemeanor charge of leaving a child unattended in vehicle. If convicted, she faces penalties of up to 93 days in jail and fines of up to $500. Michigan law prohibits leaving any child under the age of 6 in a car unattended.

On Thanksgiving Day, Barlow's car was left running while parked in a spot about 15 spaces from the closest store entrance, and her 3-year-old was asleep in the back seat. Police said the headlights were on and the radio turned up, so the car was attracting a lot of attention. Several shoppers called 911 and one woman stayed at the car until police arrived.

“We went out and checked, felt the windows and we could pretty much feel that the heater was on inside," Emmet Township Police Lt. Ken Cunningham said. "The child was unresponsive, we knocked on the window a couple times."

The child was fast asleep and didn’t wake up until police got into the car.

Officers used a device to unlock the car and the child was taken out, unharmed.

Cunningham said about 30 minutes later, Barlow exited the store and returned to the car with a shopping cart full of goods, including a small trampoline.



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