Prosecutor: Mother did not deliberately leave child

Jodie Edwards (Courtesy Cincinnati Christian University)
Jodie Edwards (Courtesy Cincinnati Christian University)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -- Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced Wednesday night that he will not file charges against a mother who left her daughter in a van for eight hours.

Deters defended his decision at a news conference on Thursday afternoon, saying there was no evidence to support that Jodie Edwards left her daughter, Jenna, in a hot van on purpose.

"If I thought Jodie Edwards left that child in the car deliberately to kill the baby, she'd be facing the death penalty," Deters said.

On Wednesday, Aug. 20, Edwards went to work at Cincinnati Christian University and left her 11-month old daughter in the van.

She returned to her vehicle  and realized her child was still inside. Edwards made a call to 911 around 4:30 p.m., but her daughter had already died.

Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Odell Owens says that Jenna Edwards died from hyperthermia when her body temperature reached to 110 degrees.

"She has to live with this the rest of her life," said Deters. "But that is not a factor."

Edwards' attorney, Robert Fischer, issued the following statement on Wednesday night: "We know Jenna's death has deeply touched and confused the greater Cincinnati community. The law does not always seem to make sense, but in this case, the right decision was made."

Cincinnati Christian University, Edwards' employer, also released the following statement: "Obviously these last few weeks have been an incredibly stressful time for the Edwards family and for all of us at Cincinnati Christian University. We are relieved to hear Joe Deters' decision. Law enforcement officials have a very difficult job, and we have prayed for the police and for the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office as they investigated the facts of this case.

"While Jodie Edwards and her family continue to cope with the aftermath of this tragic accident, we are thankful that no legal burden will be added to their shoulders. Dr. Edwards is on paid leave for the fall semester at Cincinnati Christian University in order to give her family time to begin recovering from their devastating loss. No one wants such a terrible tragedy ever to occur--but since this one did occur, our university family is doing whatever we can to support Jodie, her husband Chris, and their son Eli in their time of sorrow.

"Expressions of support, prayer, and sympathy have come to us from all around Greater Cincinnati and across the United States. On behalf of CCU and the Edwards family, we thank everyone for their concern."