Ky. Supreme Court throws out historic murder conviction for chil - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. Supreme Court throws out historic murder conviction for child left in hot car

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Mollie Shouse in a 2012 WDRB file photo. Mollie Shouse in a 2012 WDRB file photo.

LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) – Prosecutors said it was a historic conviction, the first time in Jefferson County where a parent had been convicted of murder for leaving a child to die in a hot vehicle.

But on Thursday, the Kentucky Supreme Court threw out that murder conviction against Mollie Shouse. 

The high court found that the Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney's office was not allowed, under state law, to prosecute Shouse on the charge of wanton murder.

"This was error," according to the unanimous ruling.

Under a change in law by the General Assembly in 2000 – 12 years before the trial – Shouse should have been tried, at most, on a lesser charge of second degree manslaughter.

In the ruling, the Supreme Court theorized that legislators felt a murder charge was too harsh of a punishment for such a crime.

"While nonetheless reprehensible, the grief and self blame that follows such conduct could be viewed as strong punishment that calls for a lesser criminal offense than murder," according to the court's ruling.

The court ruled Shouse could be retried on a second degree manslaughter charge.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Cooke, a spokesman for the office, said in an e-mail that they are disappointed with the decision,but "we will prosecute Ms. Shouse to the fullest extent possible consistent with the Court's opinion."

Cooke said there are "some issues with the statute in question" and prosecutors have tried previously to address them with the legislature. He said Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine would speak further on the issue on Friday. 

Attorney Mike Goodwin, who represents Shouse, said they were thrilled with the ruling.

"This was a case where Mollie tragically lost her child -- a situation which is ripe for an improper, overzealous prosecution based on emotion rather than a proper application of the law," he said.

In August 2012, a Jefferson Circuit Court jury recommended a 35-year sentence for Shouse, after finding her guilty of murder and other charges for the May 2011 death of her 2-year-old son, Kenton Brown.

Prosecutors argued Shouse was high on marijuana and Xanax when she left her son in a car for several hours and passed out in her Lyndon apartment.

The child was found hours later in his car seat. Neighbors tried to revive him but couldn't.

Mike Goodwin, an attorney for Shouse, said they were pleased with the ruling.

The jury's recommendation included 28 years for murder. The high court also threw out a wanton endangerment conviction, finding there was not enough evidence to support the finding.

A conviction for 2nd degree criminal abuse was confirmed.

Previous: Jury recommends 35 years in prison for Mollie Shouse

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