Couple charged in baby’s death
The State Attorney’s Office filed charges Thursday against a former Cape Coral couple in connection to the death of their 1-year-old son.
Michael Clark, 26, and Kathleen Tashontae Jennings, 23, both of 928 Hibicus Lane, North Fort Myers, each were charged with one count of leaving children unattended in motor vehicle causing great bodily harm, a third-degree felony.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, according to Samantha Syoen, the spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s Office.
She said the documents state that on or about July 31, they “did unlawfully, being a parent responsible for a child younger than 6 years of age, leave said child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle for a period in excess of 15 minutes, and in doing so, caused great bodily harm, to wit, to said child.”
Clark and Jennings each have an arraignment scheduled Sept. 26.
Assistant State Attorney Carrie Pollock is handling the cases.
Kenneth Garber, with the Public Defender’s Office, is representing Jennings.
He declined to comment Thursday on the state officially filing charges.
Clark is in the process of being assigned a defense attorney.
He could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Jennings declined to comment on the charges over the telephone.
On July 31, Cape police responded to a medical call at 4921 Vincennes St., Unit 1, the couple’s former home. A neighbor reported that a baby was not breathing. Prior to police arrival, the couple took the child to the hospital.
The 1-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the Cape Coral Hospital.
The couple reportedly told police that the boy was left in a hot vehicle.
On Aug. 23, arrest warrants were approved for Clark and Jennings for one count each of neglect child, unattended child in a motor vehicle cause bodily harm. The couple was located by Cape detectives and taken into custody.
Clark has since been released from the Lee County Jail on $75,000 bond. Jennings has been released on $65,000 bond.
The Department of Children and Families has opened an investigation into the boy’s death and removed the couple’s other three children from the home.
DCF spokeswoman Erin Gillespie said it takes about 60 days to complete an investigation, except in death cases. In deaths, investigators have to wait on reports from law enforcement, the Medical Examiner’s Office and others.