Oklahoma Grandmother Admits to Murder as Boy Died in Hot Car While She Gambled
Posted on: August 7, 2019, 11:13h.
Last updated on: August 8, 2019, 12:13h.
An Oklahoma grandmother entered a guilty plea to a murder charge last week, admitting responsibility for the death of her 5-year-old grandson while she visited a casino for six hours in June 2018.
Alanna Jean Orr, 50, now faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine on second-degree murder.
I caused the death of ‘MD,’ who was under the age of 18 by leaving him unattended in the back seat of my car,” she wrote in her plea petition, which was filed July 30 in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. “I was responsible for ‘MD’s’ safety and welfare.”
While the child was not named in any court document, The Oklahoman reported the child’s name was Maddox Durbin.
On June 21, 2018, Orr left her grandson in the parking lot of the Kickapoo Casino in Harrah, Okla., located about 20 miles east of Oklahoma City. According to the US Attorney’s Office, surveillance video recorded her entering the casino at 1:23 pm CT and leaving at 7:28 pm CT.
The high temperature in Harrah was around 90 degrees that day, and before US District Judge Scott L. Palk last week, she admitted she left him alone with no air conditioning.
Grandmother Initially Claimed He Choked
After leaving the casino, authorities said Orr waited 15 minutes to call 9-1-1 and summon first responders. Officers from the Harrah Police Department said they met Orr at the police station and tried to render aid to the child. However, they determined that rigor mortis had already started on the victim.
Orr initially told authorities her grandson choked.
It wasn’t until about 10 months later that a federal grand jury handed down a murder indictment against Orr, who initially pleaded not guilty to murder back in April. The grandmother was charged in federal court because the incident took place on federally recognized tribal land, and both she and her grandson are Native Americans.
Attempts to reach her public defender lawyer were unsuccessful.
“There was no plea agreement,” Bob Troester, first assistant US Attorney in the Western District of Oklahoma, told Casino.org Wednesday.
Orr remains out on bond until sentencing.
Troester said a sentencing recommendation will come after the probation office drafts its presentencing report and its reviewed along with the sentencing guidelines. That report typically is completed about 90 days after the plea is entered, meaning the earliest Orr could likely be sentenced is this fall.
Casino Deaths Rare as Hot Car Fatalities Rise
Back in April, KidsAndCars.org President and Founder Janette Fennell told Casino.org that kids have been frequently left in cars at casinos. The group estimates that approximately 300 kids over a 20-year span have been found abandoned while their parent or caretaker gambles. However, since the organization relies on media reports and other public information, such as criminal complaints, Fennell admitted that is likely a low projection.
The most recent reported incident took place at a Louisiana truck stop casino last week, where a mother and two other adults were arrested for child desertion. Authorities allege they left a 2-year-old boy in a car while all three gambled.
Reported deaths in such cases, however, are rare. Before this case, Fennell said the last two cases they knew of took place in 1997.
Despite it being a rare event at casinos, the number of young kids who have died of heatstroke because they were left unattended in a hot car has been on the rise every year since 2015. Last year, a record 52 deaths were recorded. Through Tuesday, there have been 27 confirmed hot car deaths, according to KidsAndCars, with two more pending autopsy reports.
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