Fayette County

Accounts of child left in car contested

An attorney representing a woman charged with leaving a 3-year-old boy locked in a hot car earlier this month accused witnesses Friday of exaggerating the boy's condition.

Defense lawyer Fred Peters, who represents Tanuja Patel of Lexington, questioned Officer Grace Asher's claim that 3-year-old Ryan was profusely sweating and unconscious when she found him locked in a Honda Odyssey at the Bed Bath & Beyond parking lot on Nicholasville Road.

Peters, in his cross-examination during a preliminary hearing, noted that a report written by medics showed the boy's skin temperature, skin color, pulse and skin moisture were all normal.

Medics saw the boy seven to eight minutes after Asher broke a window and got the boy out of the car on Sept. 6.

"The medical records were so contrary to what they reported," Peters said afterward.

Peters' arguments did not persuade Fayette District Judge Julie Muth Goodman. She found probable cause to send the case to a grand jury on charges of first-degree wanton endangerment.

Peters said the van has a remote starter. Patel left the van running, with the air conditioner on and doors locked, when she went to shop, Peters said.

But Patel was not aware that the van will only run for 15 minutes without the keys in it, Peters said.

Peters disputed accounts of witnesses that the boy was in the car, without air conditioning, for at least 36 minutes.

He said the air conditioner was off for only a few minutes, at most.

The case has gotten media attention because a manager at the store, Elizabeth A. Miller, allegedly refused to call police to help the boy.

Miller told witnesses that it was against the store's policy to get involved with parking lot incidents, according to police.

A Bed Bath & Beyond spokesman has said the manager misunderstood its policies.

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