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Pot-smoking mom gets 20 years for leaving 2 small children in a hot car, where they died

Juliet Ramirez, left, and her brother, Cavanaugh Ramirez, died on May 26 after being locked in a hot car, according to authorities. Their mother, Cynthia Randolph, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in their deaths.
Juliet Ramirez, left, and her brother, Cavanaugh Ramirez, died on May 26 after being locked in a hot car, according to authorities. Their mother, Cynthia Randolph, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in their deaths. Courtesy

NOTE: This article has been corrected to remove inaccurate information and add attribution that was omitted in an earlier version of the story.

A Parker County mother whose two small children died after she left them inside a car to teach them a lesson — while she smoked marijuana, watched TV and took a nap — was found guilty of two counts of reckless injury to a child and sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday.

Prosecutors had argued that Cynthia Marie Randolph, 24, should be found guilty of aggravated injury to a child, a first-degree felony..

Randolph had first told investigators that her children, 2-year-old daughter Juliet Ramirez and her brother 16-month-old Cavanaugh Ramirez, had disappeared then locked themselves in her car on May 26.

But testimony revealed otherwise, showing that Randolph was angry because the children had been playing in her 2010 Honda Crosstour and wouldn't get out, according to the Parker County district attorney's office. So she left them inside, thinking the 2-year-old could get out on her own and bring her younger brother along.

She went inside, smoked some marijuana, watched "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" on TV and took a long nap, according to testimony cited by the Parker County DA's office in a news release.

Cynthia Randolph and Juliet
This is a picture of Cynthia Marie Randolph, 24, with her daughter, Juliet Ramirez. Randolph was sentenced to 20 years in the deaths of her two children on May 26. Destiny Castillo Courtesy

"... She said she was asleep for two or three hours,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

After waking from her nap Randolph found her children unresponsive inside the Honda.

The children ended up being in the car for two hours and died of heatstroke. Temperatures soared to 96 degrees that day, which at the time was the hottest day of the year, and could have reached 140 degrees inside the car, according to noheatstroke.org.

Randolph told investigators that she broke the car window so it would look like an accident.

Prosecutors Abby Placke and Kathleen Catania represented the state in the case. Defense attorneys Rose Anna Salinas and Richard Henderson represented Randolph, according to Parker County Today.

Randolph did not get on the stand during her trial, but the jury heard 13 hours of testimony from Texas Ranger Jim Holland and an hour of her being interviewed by Parker County Sheriff's Deputy Josh Pittman.

The case stemmed from an incident that occurred at 200 Rambling Loop in unincorporated Parker County, near Lake Weatherford.

According to testimony, Randolph initially told investigators a fabricated story about the day the children died. She claimed she was folding laundry as she watched television, while the children played in the sun room on the back porch, just a few steps away from her. Randolph said that after about 30 minutes, she went to look in on her children only to find that they had mysteriously vanished.

Cavanaugh Ramirez, Juliet Ramirez
Juliet Ramirez, left, and her brother, Cavanaugh Ramirez, died on May 26 after being locked in a hot car, according to authorities. Their mother, Cynthia Randolph, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in their deaths. Destiny Castillo Courtesy

She described her frantic half-hour-long search before she finally found them unresponsive, inside her locked 2010 Honda, parked in her driveway.

She said she shattered the window to get to them, then dialed 9-1-1. Medics pronounced both children dead at the scene, authorities said.

According to the investigators, when they asked her how long the children had been inside the hot car, she replied immediately, “No more than an hour.”

A month later, police in Parker County arrested Randolph after she admitted that almost none of her original story was true.

The temperature inside a car on a sunny day can easily surpass the outside air temperature.



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