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Father is indicted on misdemeanor in child's death

November 05, 2005|By DAVID DISHNEAU

FREDERICK, MD. - A man whose 5-month-old son died of heatstroke was indicted Friday by a Frederick County grand jury on a misdemeanor charge of leaving the child unattended in a car.

Real-estate dealer Ralph C. Brown Jr., 37, of Frederick, accidentally left his son, Isaiah, in a Buick sedan outside the family's home for about five hours on Sept. 8 in 80-plus degree heat, Frederick County State's Attorney Scott Rolle said. Distractions from the family's routine contributed to the tragedy, he said.

Rolle said the grand jury rejected charges of manslaughter, child abuse and reckless endangerment.

Brown, the son-in-law of Republican city Alderman William G. Hall and a member of Frederick County's social services advisory board, couldn't be reached for comment; calls to his home went unanswered.

Brown probably will be served Monday with a criminal summons, said Cpl. Jennifer Bailey of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office. The offense carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

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Isaiah was the youngest of Ralph and Denise Hall-Brown's four children. Rolle said Brown works at home on Thursdays and Fridays and that he usually started those days by taking Isaiah to day care and then dropping off an older child at elementary school.

On Sept. 8, Brown decided to drop off the older child first because he was running late, Rolle said. As he returned to his subdivision with Isaiah still in a baby seat behind the driver's seat, Brown was distracted by a tow truck heading for his home to pick up a van the family was donating to charity. Rolle said the van was locked, with the keys inside, which added to the complications.

By the time Brown resolved that situation, "He felt he was done with his chores for the morning and went inside to begin working," Rolle said.

Brown realized his error about 2 p.m., when he went to the car to start collecting the children from school and day care, Rolle said.

"He immediately grabbed up the child, brought it inside, called 911 and was instructed by the 911 people on how to perform CPR," Rolle said. But it was too late.

"I feel that people should be held responsible for making this kind of mistake," Rolle said. "I mean, leaving your child in a car - you know, there has to be something that should happen." But because of Brown's grief, Rolle said, "I don't believe there's anything the criminal justice system can do to this man to make it worse. I think he's as punished as a human being can be punished."

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