A 29-year-old mother is accused of leaving her two young children home alone in their Kennewick apartment while she attended beauty school in Seattle.
Amber Marie Rodriguez's kids reportedly were found abandoned March 29 when a neighbor called 911 after hearing a child screaming, "Help mommy help," for about 10 minutes.
The apartment was "a complete mess" and food in the refrigerator was old and growing mold, while the kids had "easy access" to the stove and prescription medications, according to court documents.
The children immediately were taken into the custody of Child Protective Services.
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Rodriguez now is charged in Benton County Superior Court with two counts of second-degree abandonment of a dependent person.
She pleaded innocent to the charges and faces trial Aug. 13.
Kennewick officers responded to Rodriguez's West Clearwater Avenue apartment in the middle of the day March 29 after getting the call about a child in distress.
Police rang the doorbell for several minutes but no one answered. They could hear a young girl crying and screaming out inside, so they continued to knock until a 5-year-old girl opened the front door, court documents said.
A 4-year-old child was seen sitting on a bed, wearing a robe without any undergarments, documents said.
Officers checked the house and found the kids were alone, then asked the older child of her mother's whereabouts.
The girl said "her mom was in Seattle earning money," Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra wrote in court documents.
Police took pictures of the apartment, noting there was limited food in the kitchen, boxes and clothes were everywhere and there was no working telephone.
The children could access the stove and other contents of the kitchen, along with a plastic bag filled with 20 pills that was found on the floor, documents said.
Rodriguez reportedly contacted officers and said she was on her way back, but police waited 30 minutes and she never showed.
Five days after CPS took her children from the home, Rodriguez called the officers back, court documents said.
"She admitted to leaving the children alone in the apartment since 9:30 in the morning as she went to beauty school," Petra wrote.
The pills found on the floor were identified as an antihistamine, and a medical professional told police that five to 10 pills could have been fatal to the kids, documents said.
Each charge against Rodriguez states that as a result of abandoning her kids, she "created an imminent and substantial risk that the child would die or suffer great bodily harm."
Rodriguez is out of custody on her personal recognizance while the case is pending.
Prosecutors did not ask for a no-contact order between Rodriguez and the kids because CPS is allowing some type of visitation, Petra told the court. However, Rodriguez must abide by the CPS conditions, Petra added.
"We do not object, your honor," said Etoy Alford Jr., Rodriguez's attorney from Yakima.
Pasco man accused of choking, car theft
A Pasco man pleaded innocent to allegations he strangled an acquaintance who was giving him a ride, then eventually stole her car as she escaped outside a convenience store.
Joel Cervantes, 33, has a trial date set July 9 for second-degree assault and theft of a motor vehicle.
Court documents show that on April 23, the woman had agreed to drive Cervantes from a friend's house to a nearby location. Once inside her 1999 Nissan Sentra, Cervantes allegedly grabbed the woman by the back of her hair, then grabbed her throat and pushed her against the seat.
The victim told Kennewick officers she was unable to breathe and feared he would kill her, documents said.
Cervantes forced the woman into the car's back seat, then hopped into the driver's seat and took off at speeds nearing 100 mph, court documents said.
The victim was able to pull her keys out of the ignition when Cervantes was stopped near a store, but he got the keys back. The woman then ran from the Nissan as Cervantes drove off, documents said.
The car was stopped later in Franklin County with Cervantes behind the wheel after he allegedly tried to elude law enforcement.