HOUSTON - A father of two has been charged after his 6-year-old daughter strangled her 1-year-old brother when they were left in a car unattended.
According to court documents filed Friday, Adrian Dreshaun Middleton, 26, left his two children in his car while he shopped at a store for more than an hour.
Middleton turned himself in at the Baytown Police Department around 3 p.m. Monday.
The incident happened on May 20 in the parking lot of a store at 12001 East Freeway IB.
The 6-year-old told an investigator she was playing with her brother, and when she stopped playing, he started crying.
She said she became angry and wrapped the seatbelt around the baby. The girl said he stopped crying, and she thought he was sleeping, but he was dead.
Middleton told deputies when he got back to his car, he put the shopping bags in the trunk and realized his daughter was crying. He said his daughter told him she had to use the restroom and that she did something bad.
Middleton then saw his son was unconscious with the seatbelt wrapped around him. Middleton called 911 and began CPR on the boy until paramedics arrived.
The child was taken to Texas Children's Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Middleton told investigators he turned on the air conditioner and put on a movie for the children before he left them. He said he gave them water and a snack before going into the store.
He also said he checked on the children through the store window to make sure they were OK.
Middleton initially told deputies the children were strapped in car seats but later admitted in a second statement there were no car seats in the car at the time.
Surveillance footage showed Middleton was in the store for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
He has been charged with abandoning a child. No bail has been set at this time.
The little boy's death was ruled a homicide by strangulation. He has been identified as Adrian Middleton, Jr.
In an interview with KHOU 11, licensed professional counselor Bill Prasad says a 6-year-old child does not have the mental capacity to truly understand their actions, so they cannot be blamed.
"Six-years-old (is) too young to be held accountable for this,” Prasad said. "As adults, we have trouble in those situations. A 6-year-old has virtually no impulse control. So you really cannot trust a 6-year-old in that situation to be able to restrain his or herself and make a good decision.”
Prasad cautions most children are not able to make those kinds of decisions until much later, therefore should not be given that kind of responsibility until their teens.
"13 years of age, with supervision, with training, with access to emergency services, with a history of having made some good decisions and for a limited amount of time, maybe an hour or two at the most," Prasad said.