A Georgia man is being charged with second-degree murder after he left his 8-month-old daughter in his car while he entered the police station in an attempt to retrieve some guns.
On Tuesday around 2 p.m., David Whatley, 20, went into the Snellville Police Department to get firearms police had taken from him in a previous case, said Snellville Police detective Jeff Manley at a press conference Wednesday.
The 20-year-old 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 police ran a background check on Whatley, they found a warrant for a misdemeanor probation violation related to a hit-and-run with no insurance. In consequence, Whatley was arrested in the lobby, Manley said.
Whatley was in the Snellville police department’s custody for more than 40 minutes and didn’t mention anything 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.
Authorities say that 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.
According to the National Weather Service, the temperature at 3 p.m. Tuesday reached a high of 86 degrees in Snellville, just east of Atlanta.
Police were not able to confirm how long the child was in the bar but documented 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 the baby was taken to the emergency room by her grandmother, she was pronounced dead, police said.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation which reviewed bodycam footage, Whatley did not mention to Snellville police that his daughter was alone in the car.
Nova was taken to Piedmont Eastside Medical Center at 9:25 p.m. on Tuesday, said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Lis Vorrasi.
“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.”