A Parker County jury convicted a 25-year-old Weatherford woman of two counts of second degree felony injury to a child causing serious bodily injury or death and sentenced her to 20 years in prison on both in a trial that concluded in Weatherford on Monday.
Cynthia Randolph was charged in connection with the “hot car” deaths of her one-year-old son and two-year-old daughter last May.
During the trial, jurors heard 13 hours of video recorded interviews of Randolph conducted with a Texas Ranger. During the interviews, which took place in three sessions over three weeks, Randolph gave several different versions of the events that led to her childrens’ deaths. Ultimately, she said that she watched the children get into the car, told them to get out, they refused, and she slammed the door to the car to teach the older child a lesson. She admitted that she then went into her home, smoked marijuana, watched “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, and fell asleep for two to four hours, leaving the 1 and 2-year-old kids in the unlocked car with temperatures in the 90’s. She said that she thought that her 2-year-old knew how to get out of the car and that she left the doors to the house standing open.
Dr. Marc Krouse with the Parker and Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office testified that the children died of exogenous hyperthermia, more commonly known as heat stroke.
During the guilt-innocence phase of trial, jurors had four options: that she committed the offense knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, or that she was not guilty. Randolph was indicted for knowingly causing the childrens’ deaths, but after about two hours of deliberation, jurors convicted her of doing so recklessly. Randolph’s defense attorneys had asked jurors to find her guilty of the lesser offense of doing so with criminal negligence.
“Under our law, a person acts recklessly when they consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur,” said Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Catania, who prosecuted the case along with Assistant District Attorney Abby Placke. “We thought that the evidence supported a finding that she acted knowingly, which means that she knew that her actions were reasonably certain to cause the result, which, in this case, was her childrens’ deaths. This distinction was a pretty challenging one for jurors to make. We appreciate the jury’s dedication throughout this long and emotional trial.”
After jurors found Randolph guilty, they were called upon to determine her punishment, which could have been anything from probation to 20 years in prison.
“The deaths of these children and the culpability of their mother in causing that dictated that she be sentenced to prison,” Placke said. “Their lives were taken from them before they even had a chance to start.”
After jurors deliberated for less than an hour, they returned with a verdict sentencing Randolph to 20 years in prison.
415th Judicial District Court Judge Graham Quisenberry presided over the trial.
“Pursuant to Texas law, the sentences will run concurrently,” said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain. “Ms. Randolph will be eligible for parole when her actual time served plus her good time credit equals a quarter of her sentence. We hope that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles keeps her in prison as long as they can because her actions caused the deaths of two innocent little children.”