A mother facing child neglect charges after police said she left her baby in a sweltering car appeared in court Wednesday for an arraignment.
Starley Geart, 25, was arrested last week after a maintenance worker noticed the baby in an unconscious state, soaked in sweat from sitting in the direct sunlight, according to National City Police Sgt. Julian Villagomez.
On Wednesday Geart appeared in court with her family and pleaded not guilty to one count of felony child abuse.
Her public defender asked that her face not be photographed for safety reasons, saying she has received threats. The judge denied the request.
During Wednesday's arraignment, the judge noted that this is the third time in the past three weeks in San Diego that a baby has been left in a hot car.
Court records obtained last week by NBC 7 show that the incident is not Geart's first encounter with police either. In 2009, she pleaded guilty and received three years of probation for petty theft.
In 2010, she was charged with a drug-related infraction for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana. The records show she did not pay her fine and it was raised to $600. There is no record that she did or didn't.
Geart has another child, but authorities could not say where the child was at the time of her arrest.
Surveillance footage showed Geart, leave the car in the East Plaza Boulevard shopping center at about 3 p.m. for about 10 minutes while shopping at a clothing store nearby.
When police and fire personnel responded, they broke into the car through the window to rescue the baby. The baby was revived and taken to Rady Children's Hospital.
Authorities could not say whether Child Protective Services would also take Geart's other child.
Geart told police she only left the baby for a minute. Surveillance footage shows 10 minutes elapsing before police arrived and she came out of the store to address them.
Witnesses described Geart's reaction upon finding out about her child's condition as nonchalant.
"She wasn’t sad or crying or anything," one witness said. "It didn’t even bother her. I don’t know how a parent can be like that."
Highs in National City on Tuesday reached about 75 degrees, but firefighters said the temperature inside the car could have gotten as high as 140 degrees.
Geart was booked into jail on child endangerment charges. She has since been released.