Tag Archives: wade naramore trial

Mother buckling child in car seat

“Forgotten Baby Syndrome” Expert Offers Testimony In Trial for Negligent Homicide

Judge Wade Naramore is on trial for the negligent homicide of his son, Thomas, who was found dead after his father left him in a hot car in July 2015. Naramore is a circuit judge in Garland County, Arkansas.

At the time of his arrest, Naramore told investigators that he forgot to drop off his son at daycare and left him in the backseat for about five hours. He said that he didn’t realize his son was still in the back seat until he heard a noise in the rear of his car when he was driving to pick his son up from daycare later that day.

Following a six-month investigation by special Prosecutor Scott Ellington, Naramore was arrested and charged with negligent homicide, a Class A misdemeanor. He turned himself in and pleaded not guilty. Naramore faces up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500 if convicted. The Arkansas Supreme Court has temporarily suspended Naramore, pending the outcome of his case.

Naramore’s Defense

Naramore’s defense team called David Diamond, Ph.D, to testify as an expert on memory loss. Dr. Diamond is a neuroscientist and professor at the University of South Florida. He is also the Director of the USF Center for Preclinical and Clinical Research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dr. Diamond has studied the “Forgotten Baby Syndrome” and has testified in numerous cases as a scientific consultant on cases involving memory-related child death.

Dr. Diamond’s fee is $10,000 to investigate cases such as Naramore’s. Dr. Diamond says that he will only testify in cases that he determines to be accidents.

Dr. Diamond opined that there were several factors that may have affected Naramore on the day that he left Thomas in the hot car. Diamond noted that the numerous changes in Naramore’s routine, possible sleep deprivation, and stress or distractions all could have played a role in the incident.

On most mornings, Naramore ate breakfast at home, but that day he stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s. Dr. Diamond theorized that stopping for breakfast triggered a “restart” of Naramore’s habitual behavior of driving to work after stopping at daycare. His brain treated the stop at McDonald’s as if it were a stop at daycare. Naramore then stopped thinking of having a baby in the backseat, just as he would have done if he had dropped the baby at daycare.

The state attempted to undermine Dr. Diamond’s testimony by questioning the statements that Naramore made to him to help develop Diamond’s forgotten child theory.

In 2014, Dr. Diamond previously testified that 200 children have died worldwide over the past 15 years after being left in cars. A website called Kids and Cars has been created to raise awareness of this issue. According to the site, over 2,200 children are injured or killed in nontraffic events every week. Kids and Cars has also compiled data on convictions in cases of children dying from heat stroke in cars. It found that 28 percent of accidental cases result in convictions and 60 percent when someone knowingly left a child in a car.

Naramore’s Support

Naramore’s family has supported him throughout the ordeal. His mother-in-law, Jan Wright, testified that she learned of Thomas’ death when she received a phone call from a distraught Naramore that consisted of him screaming and wailing and asking her to call 911. Wright testified that Naramore was inconsolable over the next few days, requiring medication to sleep. She testified that she did not place blame on Naramore, saying, “Those things can happen to anybody.”

Jury Acquits Naramore

The jury found Naramore not guilty. Expert testimony likely helped the jury understand that the tragedy of Thomas’ death could have happened to any parent. In addition, the jury may have been influenced by the emotional testimony of Naramore and his family members.

The jury deliberated for three hours. Jurors had difficulty reaching a unanimous verdict. At one point, the vote was 10-2 (presumably in favor of acquittal). The jury later told the judge that the vote was 11-1. The judge told the jury to continue its deliberations, which resulted in the unanimous verdict of not guilty.

a judge's chair

Arkansas Judge on Trial for Hot Car Death Calls Forgotten Baby Expert Witness

An Arkansas judge accused of negligent homicide for the hot car death of his infant son has called a neuroscience expert witness to testify about “forgotten baby syndrome.” The expert witness accompanied emotional testimony from several of the judge’s family members in an effort to convince jurors that he was not negligent of his child, but instead suffered from a momentary loss of memory explained by a neurological syndrome.

Arkansas Judge Charged with Negligent Homicide

Judge Wade Naramore of Garland County, Arkansas is on trial for negligent homicide for the death of his 18-month-old son, Thomas, who died after being left in a hot car in July 2015. Naramore left Thomas in the car for several hours after failing to take him to day care, and the infant died with an internal body temperature of 107 degrees. After investigating the incident, prosecutors arrested Naramore and charged him with negligent homicide, arguing that the defendant “should have been aware” of the risk of leaving his son in the car, and his failure to recognize that risk was a criminal deviation from the care that a reasonable person would have taken.

Defense attorneys for Naramore have focused their argument on an additional element of negligence that prosecutors have not included: blameworthiness. According to Naramore’s defense team, negligence is more than just a failure to perceive a risk, but also requires evidence that the defendant was at fault for consciously creating the risk. The defense has argued that prosecutors must prove a deliberate act or conduct contributed to Thomas’s death, and have focused their case on showing jurors that Judge Naramore suffered from a neurological memory lapse which made him unaware that his infant son was left in the hot car.

Calling the incident a “tragic accident” which does not meet the threshold of criminal negligence, Naramore’s attorneys called a nationally renowned neuroscientist to explain the concept of “forgotten baby syndrome” to jurors.

Expert Witness Explains Forgotten Baby Syndrome

Attorneys for Wade Naramore called David Diamond, Ph.D to take the stand and explain a theory he uses to explain the loss of awareness of children in cars. Dr. Diamond, a neuroscience expert at the University of South Florida, calls his theory Forgotten Baby Syndrome, and argues there are several factors which cause an otherwise normal and loving parent to temporarily forget that they have a child in the car with them. Dr. Diamond’s expert testimony distinguishes Forgotten Baby Syndrome from standard child abuse or negligence by categorizing it as a neurological condition creating holes in human memory – which can be faulty and frail.

According to Dr. Diamond, when parents depart from their standard routine, and suffer from sleep deprivation and high stress situations. During his testimony, Dr. Diamond told jurors that Naramore’s case was consistent with the causes of Forgotten Baby Syndrome. On the day of Thomas’s death, the defendant dressed and readied the baby — usually something his wife did — and had an unusual breakfast at McDonald’s instead of his regular banana. Additionally, Naramore was having trouble sleeping at the time, going so far as to take pills to help the process. Dr. Diamond’s day-long testimony explained that the defendant may not have been negligent, but was instead suffering from the temporary neurological condition which caused him to forget about his infant son.

Forgotten Baby Syndrome in Hot Car Trials

This is not the first time that Dr. Diamond has testified about Forgotten Baby Syndrome during a negligent homicide trial of a parent who forgot a baby inside of a hot car. Last year, Diamond testified in the trial of El Paso teacher Wakesha Ives, whose daughter died after being left in a hot car during the school day. Although Ives was found guilty in that trial, she received a suspended prison sentence and probation.

Forgotten Baby Syndrome, like many syndromes, may be met with skepticism by jurors who are unable to believe that any parent could simply, and without control, forget a child inside of a car. With the occurrence of the condition uncommon, defense attorneys who call Dr. Diamond as a forgotten baby expert witness likely have an uphill battle to climb regardless of the empirical soundness of the expert’s research and theoretical conclusions. Wade Naramore’s trial will likely conclude next week with a verdict expected shortly.