Why drop the charges against mothers who drove their children into washes?
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Oct. 23, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The two women who drove their cars into running washes with their children inside the vehicles no longer face charges of child abuse. County prosecutors have dismissed those initial charges at this point. 9 On Your Side wanted to know why, and camped out at the county attorney's office to try and get answers.
Last month, in separate incidents, 9 On Your Side reported Pima County deputies arrested 18-year-old Tiffany Sherman and 29-year-old Edna Encinas after rescuing them and their children from flooded washes. Officials said they ignored clearly posted road closure signs. Both moms were arrested for child abuse, a felony, for endangering their children.
At the time, Deputy Tom Peine told 9 On Your Side, “The situation is if you take any act where you endanger the safety of the children that is where these charges apply.”
Tuesday, the Pima County Attorney’s Office confirmed it dismissed the preliminary charges.
Attorney’s office spokeswoman Stephanie Coronado said the initial case against Encinas was dismissed because the evidence collected by law enforcement was not enough to prove the charges "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Coronado said the attorney’s office and the Pima County Sheriff's Department will continue to review evidence to decide on possible future charges against Sherman.
9 On Your Side wanted to know more about these high-profile cases law enforcement said left children in danger and was serious enough to warrant arrests.
Among the unanswered questions:
- What kind of evidence is needed to make a case?
- Could the mothers have been charged with another crime like endangerment, reckless driving or a violation of the state stupid motorist law?
- What doesn't the public know about the cases that would influence our thinking?
9 On Your Side asked the Pima County Attorney's Office for an interview Tuesday afternoon. Staff said county attorney Barbara LaWall was in a meeting and KGUN9 would have to wait to see if one was possible. They also said other news outlets placed interview requests, possibly improving the chances of arranging one.
Staff eventually said an interview was unlikely because LaWall and her staff's schedules were full.
Hoping someone could answer questions between or after their meetings, 9 On Your Side reporter Kevin Keen went to the office and waited in the lobby. Staff soon said LaWall had left the building for an engagement.
Keen offered to meet LaWall wherever and whenever was convenient, but didn’t hear back. After placing other calls, at five minutes to five o’clock, receptionists left, the lights went out and a security guard told Keen to leave because the building closed.
There are many questions but few questions Tuesday about what happened to these women's cases. 9 On Your Side will continue to seek answers.