WINCHESTER — A city woman who left her baby in a van on a hot summer day has avoided imprisonment.
In a plea bargain on Tuesday in Winchester Circuit Court, Taylor Danielle Arguetta pleaded fact sufficient for a finding of guilt to a felony cruelty to a child charge. If she complies with terms of the agreement, she will receive a 12-month suspended sentence to an amended misdemeanor contributing to delinquency of a minor charge when she returns to court on April 21. Arguetta, 28, was originally charged with cruelty to a child, which is a felony.
The baby was found on July 17, 2018, at about 2:35 p.m. The temperature in Winchester was 88 degrees at that time, according to the National Weather Service.
Police said driver Tiffany Baird, who was parked near Arguetta’s unlocked van in the parking lot of the Ross Dress for Less store at 2460 S. Pleasant Valley Road, heard the 11-month-old boy crying in the back seat of the van and removed him.
Police said the baby was in the van for at least 10 minutes. The boy, who has fully recovered, was sweating profusely and vomiting when he was removed from the van.
The temperature inside a vehicle with the windows rolled up or cracked for 10 minutes is about 109 degrees on a 90-degree day, according to noheatstroke.org, a website that tracks the deaths of children left in hot cars.
Defense attorney William B. Mann said in an interview after the court hearing that Arguetta had dropped off two of her four children with her mother and was supposed to have also dropped off the baby. Arguetta, who was taking an anti-anxiety medication that made her forgetful, forgot the baby was asleep in the van when she took her daughter into the store.
Mann said Arguetta, who has no criminal record, immediately stopped taking the medication after the incident. He said her son was returned to her by the Department of Social Services and she participated in its parenting program. In addition, she has complied with a substance abuse assessment by Northwestern Community Services and done 50 hours of community service. Mann said Arguetta has learned from the near tragedy.
“It’s a happy ending,” Mann said. “In the end, it really helped her, and thankfully no one got hurt.”