A Georgia man was charged with second-degree murder after leaving his eight-month-old daughter in his car while he attempted to retrieve some guns from the local police.
Davied Whatley, 20, went into the Snellville Police Department around 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday to get firearms police had taken from him in a previous case, said Snellville Police detective Jeff Manley at a press conference Wednesday.
Whatley parked his car in the nearby City Hall parking lot and left his daughter, Nova Grace Whatley-Trejo, inside, authorities said.
According to Manley, the police department doesn’t return guns to individuals until they’ve made sure they aren’t convicted felons. When they ran a background check on Whatley, police found a warrant for a misdemeanor probation violation related to a hit-and-run with no insurance. As a result, Whatley was arrested in the lobby, Manley said.
Whatley was with Snellville police officers for more than 40 minutes and didn’t tell them about his daughter, who was in the car parked two buildings away from the police department during his arrest, police said.
“After 2 p.m., he was transported to the Gwinnett County Detention Center,” Manley said.
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According to authorities, it’s possible that Whatley told the child’s grandmother about the baby, which prompted her to go get the baby.
“I believe she was alerted by him sometime later, then she went to check on the child,” Manley said.
Police weren’t able to say how long the child was in the car but noted that the incident started around 2 p.m. By the time the child was taken to the emergency room, it was “before 10 p.m.,” Manley said.
When Nova’s grandmother took the baby to the emergency room at a nearby hospital, she was pronounced dead, police said.
Whatley did not mention to Snellville police his daughter being left alone in the car, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which reviewed bodycam footage.
Manley said Whatley bonded out of jail for the probation violation Tuesday night and was arrested Wednesday morning in connection with his daughter’s death.
The investigation is ongoing and will be given to the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office.
Manley, the Snellville detective, said he was shocked by the case.
“I’m absolutely astounded that somebody would leave an eight-month-old in a car, park away from our building and walk up here knowing that child is in the car and leaving her.”
Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas and food.
Saleen Martin, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @Saleen_Martin