A mother charged with felony murder in Bartow County after her 3-year-old child drowned on Memorial Day made her first court appearance Wednesday morning.
The children were left without food, safety, adult supervision, and other “necessary functions” to help them.
The children’s mother, Bobbie Jessica Prather, was arrested and charged with felony murder after her toddler son was found unconscious in an an above ground swimming pool on May 28. According to the Bartow County Sheriff’s Department, the murder charge came after police found evidence that Prather left four children, the 3-year old boy, a 4-year-old, and 1-year-old twins home alone for over 14 hours.
Investigators don’t believe the boy’s death was an accident, AJC reported. It was the county’s second drowning death of a young child over the holiday weekend; the first was deemed accidental.
According to CBS, emergency responders went to the boy’s home at 1:30 pm, at which point a deputy police officer pulled the unconscious boy out of the pool. He was not breathing at this time, EMS director Brad Cothran said.
Paramedics determined the child had been underwater too long to be resuscitated, Cothran said. Just after 6 p.m., Prather was arrested.
“Most of us are parents and (when) we respond to something like this, of course, it affects you, because everyone loves children,” Sgt. Jonathan Rogers told Channel 2 Action News. “Children rely on us for safety, security and comfort.”
Prather’s other three children were removed from the home and placed in protective custody, where they remained Wednesday, Rogers said. The father of the 3 year-old child, Douglas Settles, was also arrested on warrants unrelated to the case. Investigators have not ruled out charging him in his son’s death.
The state Division of Family and Children Service is assisting with the investigation. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is conducting an autopsy on the boy.