A Pine Bluff couple was arrested Monday after police found three unattended children in their car.
James Newsom, 29, and Dacia Johnson, 22, were taken into custody after they came out of a business in the Jefferson Square Shopping Center just before noon.
Pine Bluff Detective Roger Gray said in a probable cause affidavit that Sgt. Cassandra Briggs-McAfee was at the shopping center when she made contact with a tan Buick that was parked in front of Citi Trends with the windows rolled up and the key in the ignition.
Three children, a 4-year-old male, a 2-year-old female and a 6-month-old male were inside the car; the 4-year-old was standing up in the driver’s seat trying to pull the gear shift down, according to the affidavit.
Briggs-McAfee reported that the children were covered in sweat, and the infant, who was in a car seat, was crying. She was able to enter the car through the unlocked driver’s side door.
When Johnson and Newsom came out of the store, they told police they had only been in there for about two minutes, but store video showed them entering at 11:29 a.m. and exiting at 11:50 p.m. Gray reported that the outside temperature at the time was 84 degrees
According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, which keeps track of how hot the inside of vehicles can get, with an air temperature of 84 degrees and an elapsed time of 20 minutes, the interior can reach 114 degrees.
Johnson told police she had left the car running and did not know how the engine was turned off. The children were turned over to the Department of Human Services.
On Wednesday, Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth set a $2,500 bond for both Johnson and Newsom after ruling prosecutors have probable cause to charge them with endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree. They were also ordered to have no contact with the children.
The Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent both Johnson and Newsom.