Las Vegas Sun

November 23, 2017

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Mother whose son died in car trunk sentenced

A Las Vegas mother of five whose 3-year-old son died in the trunk of her car two years ago was sentenced to 30 days in jail and five years probation Thursday.

Deanna Evans, 44, declined to make a statement before being sentenced by District Judge Michael Cherry.

Evans pleaded guilty to attempted child abuse and neglect in the October 2000 death of her son, Kenny Smith. Under the terms of the plea agreement, if Evans should violate her probation she will receive a four to 10-year prison sentence.

According to police, the child opened the trunk of his mother's car, crawled inside and accidentally locked himself inside.

Evans told officers she had taken a nap about 9:30 a.m. and when she woke up about noon, her son was missing.

She searched for her missing child for about two hours, then called police.

Officers found the boy in the trunk of the car at 2:48 p.m. and he was taken to the hospital, where he died three days later.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Doug Herndon said that although prosecutors initially declined to press charges against Evans, abuse and neglect charges were filed months later when she told officials she had given the boy the keys although she knew he could get into the car.

It was also discovered Evans was on drugs at the time of the incident, Herndon said.

Herndon had said he offered the deal after speaking with state caseworkers, who said Evans has improved her parenting skills with their assistance.

In addition, unlike cases in which children are left unattended in a bathtub, the outcome in this case could not be predicted, Herndon said.

"I don't think it was foreseeable to her that if she gave the boy the keys that he was going to lock himself in the trunk and die," Herndon said. At the time Evans entered her plea, defense attorney Steve Altig said his client disputed some details of the case but chose to resolve the case so that her family could begin the healing process.

Altig told Cherry Thursday that Evans hopes to regain custody of her surviving children, who are wards of the state.

Cherry ordered Evans to pay more than $33,000 in restitution for the boy's medical bills, attend substance abuse counseling and vocational education classes.