Local News

Woman pleads guilty in death of child left in car

— Two Highlands County women who were either convicted of or plead guilty to charges they caused the death of a child through neglect will be sentenced Sept. 15.

In totally unrelated cases, Sandra Jackson, 27, was convicted of three counts of neglect and aggravated manslaughter of a child after a three-day jury trial, and Adriana Alicia Espinoso, of Lake Placid, who was 23 when her daughter died, plead guilty Thursday to aggravated manslaughter of a child in Highlands County Circuit Court.

Circuit Judge William Sites, who had already scheduled sentencing for Jackson on Sept. 15, agreed to sentence Espinoso on the same day.

Robert Gray, who also was the attorney for Jackson, said he anticipated the Espinoso sentencing hearing to last about an hour because some witnesses will testify on her behalf.

Authorities arrested Espinoso last June when her 18-month-old girl died of heat stroke after spending two hours in an unairconditioned car.

At the same time, authorities said, Espinoso was spending time nearby in an air conditioned car with her boyfriend, Christopher Eiland, of Fort Meade.

The car with the child did not cool because only the fan was turned on, a report said. The child had a temperature of 104 degrees when she arrived at a hospital, a report said.

Eiland, a deputy assigned to the jail in Polk County, was charged with failure to report suspected child abuse, abandonment or neglect. He resigned his position with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office after being arrested.

He was scheduled to be tried this month, but the trial was delayed.

Espinoso told authorities initially that her child became ill in an air conditioned vehicle outside a doctor’s office.

Later, she told deputies that she lied because she did not want her husband to know she was meeting with another man.

Eiford told authorities that he and Espinoso had met at least five times in the motel parking lot where the child suffered heat stroke.

In the Jackson case, her son, 9-month-old Milo Rupert died from malnutrition and his three sisters were found to be malnourished. Authorities said that the children were kept in their bedrooms most of the day and the rooms were full of cockroaches and filth.


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