Burleson grandmother no-billed in child endangerment case

A Tarrant County grand jury has declined to indict a Burleson grandmother on a charge that she left her 2-year-old granddaughter in a hot car at a Wal-Mart parking lot in September.

Jurors in Fort Worth reached their decision last week in the case of Deborah Jean Reece, 60, who was charged in September with one count of abandoning or endangering a child.

Cass Callaway of Fort Worth, Reece’s attorney, could not reached Wednesday.

“The grand jury heard the facts and circumstances of this case and made a decision not to indict,” said Melody McDonald, a spokeswoman with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, in an email Wednesday. “Because grand jury proceedings are secret by law, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

The incident in question occurred at about 5:40 p.m. on Sept. 1 at the Wal-Mart at 1221 Farm Road 1187 in Crowley. A woman in the parking lot heard the child screaming and found her alone in a child safety seat.

“The windows are up and the car is not running,” Crowley police officer C.C. Meadows said in a telephone interview with the Star-Telegram in September. “The woman looks around trying to find somebody. She found the door unlocked and got the child out.”

The high temperature on Sept. 1 was 97 at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

“The child was dripping in sweat and her hair was all wet,” Meadows said at the time.

Using a store surveillance video, investigators determined that the girl was alone in the vehicle for almost an hour. Studies show that on average, temperatures inside a vehicle can increase by 19 degrees in 10 minutes and 34 degrees in 30 minutes.

A second woman walked up, and both women started looking for the child’s mother or the car’s driver. A Crowley police officer who was responding to a separate call in the store walked out and the women flagged the officer down, Meadows said. Paramedics were called.

“The officer and women waited another 20 minutes before a woman with groceries walked out of the store and to the car,” Meadows said.

The woman, later identified as Reece, told officers that her granddaughter had apparently fallen asleep and that she didn’t realize that the child was left in the car, Meadows said.

The girl was taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth for observation.

This report contains information from Star-Telegram archives.

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr