Great-Grandparents to Serve Jail Time for Child’s Hot Car Death

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The great-grandparents of a 2-year-old boy who died in a hot car last summer will serve jail time.

A Washington County jury began deliberating sentencing for William and Margarette Staten just before noon on Tuesday (March 5) after a hearing before Washington County Circuit Judge William Storey.

Each Staten will serve 60 days each in the Washington County jail and pay a $2,500.

"I think we are pretty much terrified about it for the simple fact that neither one of us have ever been to jail," Margarette Staten said.

Chronister’s mother also took the stand saying whatever the punishment; it won’t bring back her son.

Meanwhile the family is supporting the couple.

“I couldn’t even see them ever doing anything to intentionally hurt him and now to have them to live with the fact that it is on them, why he is not here, that`s a prison sentence in its own,” said Debbie Martin, the boy’s grandmother. “We each stay strong for one another; we are not from here so all we have is each other.”

The couple was found guilty Dec. 6 in Springdale District Court of misdemeanor negligent homicide in the death of their great-grandson, Joniah Chronister. However, they appealed their sentence late last year.

Police said the Statens left the child inside a hot car while shopping at the Springdale Walmart on Aug. 3. The temperature likely rose to 150 degrees inside the dark-colored Ford Focus where the boy was buckled into a car seat, according to investigators.

Police said they believe the boy had been in the car for about two hours.

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