A Pennsylvania woman who left her boyfriend's four-year-old daughter in a hot car on a sweltering day in July 2016 has been acquitted of charges in the girl's death and fined just $25.
A jury found Brittany Renee Borgess, 30, innocent of charges of involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment on Friday.
Senior Judge Dudley N Anderson found her guilty of the summary charge of leaving a child unattended in a car and fined her a meager $25.
The Lycoming County courtroom erupted when the jury announced its verdict after deliberating for just three hours - leading deputies to escort several friends and family members of victim Samaria Motyka out of the room, the Daily Mail reports.
On the morning of July 22, 2016, Borgess dropped her two-year-old son Isaac off at day care in Williamsport and then drove to work, forgetting to bring Samaria to her own day care along the way, according to PennLive.com.
The then-28-year-old parked her SUV at the rear of a downtown business where there was no shade, leaving four-year-old buckled into a booster seat in the back.
Six and a half hours later, Borgess discovered Samaria unconscious on the floor of the SUV. She had climbed out of her booster seat to the front seat.
The outside temperature had reached 97 degrees that day as experts speculate the car's interior likely hit upwards of 120 degrees.
Samaria's internal temperature was measured at 110 degrees when she was brought to the hospital.
Attorney's for Borgess claimed that a brain malfunction had caused the mother to lose awareness.
Borgess did not consciously disregard or knowingly forget Samaria was in the SUV, lawyer Peter T Campana said during closing arguments.
Campana contended that Borgess was chronically sleep deprived and under stress because she was about to get married to Samaria's father, William Motyka.
However, prosecutors argued that there was no reasonable explanation for why Borgess left the young girl in the SUV that day.
First Assistant District Attorney Martin Wade told the court that forgetfulness should not be accepted as an excuse for Samaria's death, saying: "It's absurd to leave a child to die in a car."
The jury was ultimately tasked with determining whether Borgess' actions constituted a criminal act or a mere lapse in memory.
Campana had asked jurors to base their verdict on evidence rather than emotion, telling the court: "No matter your verdict, Samaria will not be brought back."
Samaria's friends and family decried the verdict outside the courtroom on Friday as deputies escorted Borgess and her family from the building.
Borgess and Samaria's father had been living together in DuBoistown for three years before the girl's death. They are no longer together, according to PennLive.com.