Tenn. Mom Who Put Baby in Freezer Gets Two Years Probation

A young Tennessee mother who was facing felony charges for putting her baby in an unused freezer has been sentenced to probation.

In January, Brittany Smith, 19, was seen putting her 8-month-old baby boy in an unused freezer in someone else’s yard. On Wednesday, Smith pleaded guilty to child neglect, a reduced charge from aggravated child abuse, WBIR, WCYB and Fox35 report. She was sentenced to two years probation.

Smith’s baby survived the incident but investigators say if the 8-month-old had been inside the freezer much longer he could have run out of oxygen and died.

On the afternoon of Jan. 2, Smith was spotted walking through a family’s backyard carrying a baby. When the home’s resident, Deborah Presnell, and her family saw Smith in their yard they went out to investigate, the Johnson City Press reports.

During a search of the area, the family found an 8-month-old baby in an old unused freezer in the backyard.

“It wasn’t moving, wasn’t nothing,” Presnell’s son told WCYB at the time. “I reached in and pulled it out. It started moving. Instant relief.”

The family then found Smith hiding underneath their home in a crawl space. Presnell later testified in court that Smith appeared to be under the influence, the Press reports.

“I asked her, ‘You want to leave the baby here?’ and she said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘You’re gonna be back now, aren’t you?’ She said, ‘Yes,’” Preseall recalled, according to the paper.

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According to the Press, Presnell said she let Smith leave while her family watched the baby without calling authorities because of “the 24-hour Good Samaritan law.”

“I knew whatever she was on, when she came off she’d come back for the baby. But she left,” Presnell said.

Twelve hours later, Smith returned and the family was able to convince her to call her mother, Presnell testified.

“My son stated that baby wasn’t going nowhere,” Presnell said, according to the Press. “Either the grandma’s gotta be here or the cops are going to be here. One or the other.”

In the end, the family called authorities, who arrested Smith and placed her child in protective custody. He is now in the care of Smith’s mother, according to WCYB. Blair told the station he has since removed the freezer’s lid.

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