A Kennewick mother has pleaded innocent to allegations she left her toddler unattended on her apartment balcony for at least two hours in near-100-degree temperatures.
Brittney R. Turner was found passed out in her bed with several smoking devices and other drug paraphernalia nearby, according to prosecutors.
Police had been called to the complex after maintenance workers in the unit above Turner’s apartment noticed the 19-month-old girl was alone, the screen door was shut and no one had responded to her loud cries.
Turner, who turned 20 on July 25, is charged in Benton County Superior Court with second-degree criminal mistreatment with domestic violence. The charge involves recklessly creating “an imminent and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm.”
A Sept. 14 trial date has been set.
Management at La Serena at Hansen Park called 911 shortly after 3 p.m. July 20 to report that a renter’s child was out on the balcony alone and it was 99 degrees outside.
The maintenance workers told police that while cleaning and painting the apartment upstairs, they had left that unit’s sliding glass door open for fresh air and could hear the child downstairs on the balcony. They first noticed the girl at about 1 p.m. when they were checking what supplies they needed.
The workers left the West Fourth Avenue apartment and returned about two hours later to see the girl was in the same clothes and appeared to be in the exact same spot with the balcony door closed, court documents said.
The concerned men said they went into the empty apartment and contemplated what they should do for a few minutes, then decided to ask their boss to call police.
The workers said about 15 minutes before the first officer arrived at 3:30 p.m., they heard the girl fall on the balcony and start crying loudly, but no one came to help her, documents said.
The officer saw the girl in a pink, long-sleeve onesie and, when he talked to her, the girl began jumping on a chair pushed against the railing. The officer noted that the sliding glass door was open but the screen door was closed, and the only other thing on the balcony was a bucket.
Police found the front door open to Turner’s apartment. They could see the toddler pushing against the screen and possibly saying “mommy,” but no one answered when they loudly yelled if anyone was home, court documents said.
That’s when police decided to perform a welfare check and entered the apartment, searching each room while continuing to yell for any occupants.
Officers pulled back the cover on Turner’s bed and found her asleep. “She then woke up, but appeared very disoriented, lethargic, and her actions were slow and clumsy,” documents said.
An officer, in getting the girl off the balcony, noticed that the screen door took some force to move and that it could not be done by a toddler, court documents said. Officers changed her soiled diaper and washed a straw so she could drink lots of water.
Paramedics were called to evaluate both the young girl and her mother.
Turner told police she last saw her daughter at 1:30 a.m. and that she left the girl “running around with the screen door open so she could go to the balcony like always,” Deputy Prosecutor Emily Sullivan wrote. She said the girl must have closed the screen door by herself.
Officers said as Turner became more alert and aware of the situation, she had “a severe mood swing” and cursed at them as she tried to get off the couch and walk away, documents said.
Turner claimed she had no family to help her, and initially said the girl’s father wasn’t in the picture though she later admitted to Child Protective Services that he stayed in the apartment the night before, court documents said. A CPS worker who responded to the apartment told police she was familiar with Turner and took the toddler into protective custody.
Suspected drug items recovered from Turner’s home with a search warrant have been sent to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for testing.
Turner’s bail was set at $10,000. She was told she can only have contact with her daughter if it is allowed by CPS.