Grandma pleads guilty to leaving grandkids in hot car

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
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A grandmother who left her three grandchildren in her car unattended on a hot summer day while she was inside her Springettsbury Township dentist's office has avoided prison.

Instead, Marnella Witherspoon was ordered to perform 150 hours of community service, take parenting classes, undergo mental-health and drug-and-alcohol evaluations and submit to three years of probation, according to court records.

Witherspoon, 48, of Hummelstown, pleaded guilty in York County Court on Friday, Dec. 7, to child endangerment and leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, according to court records.

She had applied for the county's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which could have allowed her to avoid conviction, but the York County District Attorney's Office rejected her request on Oct. 12, court records state.

Springettsbury Township Police said it was 80 degrees outside the afternoon of June 21 when they were called to a parking lot in the 2300 block of East Market Street about 4:15 p.m.

Someone had called 911 to report there were children unattended in a Ford Fusion, police said.

The background: Officer Cory Landis found three young children in the Ford. Two of them were 2 and the other was 6, police said. 

All the windows were down, the engine was off, and there was no shade for the car, Landis wrote in court documents.

The 6-year-old told officers they were waiting for their grandmother to return to the car and take them to McDonald's, documents state. Police said the children seemed to be in good spirits. 

Landis waited with the children until another officer arrived to watch them, then he went inside the dentist's office, court documents state.

Inside, he found Witherspoon, who said she had an appointment at 3 p.m. that day but she could not be taken right away, officials said.

Witherspoon told police she checked on the children three times between 3 p.m. and when she went in for her appointment, court documents state.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.