SUNBURY — A 25-year-old Watsontown-area woman, who is accused of leaving her 21-month-old daughter in a locked car with the windows up for more than five hours last summer, pleaded no contest Monday to a felony charge of aggravated assault.
Tonia Lee Sones is scheduled to be sentenced within 90 days after entering the plea before Northumberland County President Judge Charles H. Saylor, who ordered a pre-sentence investigation.
By pleading no contest, Sones is neither admitting nor denying guilt but concedes that the prosecution has enough evidence against her to gain a conviction at trial.
The defendant entered the plea just prior to jury selection in her case.
Sones, who was represented by defense attorney Kyle Rude, was charged by state police at Milton with aggravated assault (three counts), simple assault, endangering welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person as the result of an alleged incident that occurred between 7 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. June 1, 2018, outside her residence.
All other charges will not be prosecuted at sentencing.
Trooper Joshua Kendrick said in court papers that he and Trooper Joel Follmer arrived at Evangelical Community Hospital, Lewisburg, at 2:20 p.m. June 1, 2018, after receiving a report of an infant who was being treated for heat stroke.
Kendrick said he was informed by Dr. John Devine that Sones’ daughter had been left inside of a car for over five hours. Troopers were told the girl’s temperature was 103 degrees upon her arrival at the hospital.
The girl was subsequently flown by helicopter to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, for more extensive treatment.
Upon questioning, Kendrick said Sones indicated picking her daughter up from a sitter after working her 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. shift as a welder at Great Dane.
According to court papers, Sones said her daughter did not sleep well while she was being cared for while Sones was at work. The girl did fall asleep on the car ride home.
“Sones stated that she thought she would let her sleep in the car since she didn’t sleep very well overnight,” Kendrick wrote in the criminal complaint. “Sones made sure all of the windows were up and the doors were locked on the car at this time.”
Sones allegedly told troopers that she went inside her home and fell asleep. She did not wake up until around 12:30 p.m.
Court papers indicate Sones found her daughter inside the car, having a seizure. She called an ambulance for assistance.
At 6:54 that morning, Kendrick wrote that the recorded air temperature was 71.1 degrees. It reached 84.9 degrees at 12:54 p.m.
Kendrick said medical records from Geisinger Medical Center stated the girl suffered brain swelling and brain damage, consistent with heat stroke. She had a feeding tube inserted due to not being able to be fed by mouth due to the brain damage she suffered in the alleged incident.
According to court papers, the girl was transferred to Penn State Rehabilitation Hospital in Hummelstown for physical, occupational and speech therapy.