Mother Pleads Not Guilty to Child Abuse After Toddler Found Dead in Car

A Tierrasanta mother accused of child abuse weeks after her toddler was found dead inside a car pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Monday.

Pricilla Marquez Harris, 24, is being held on in San Diego County Jail on $1 million bail for one count of felony child abuse.

On Aug. 5, Harris called 911 from her home on Leary Street just before 1 p.m. to report she could not find her daughter.

Within five minutes of hanging up, Harris called 911 again and said she found her daughter inside a car and the toddler was in need of medical help.

Paramedics arrived within a minute of the second call but it was too late; Scarlett Grace Harris had died. She was just three months shy of her second birthday.

The complaint filed against Harris alleges she left her home at around 12:30 a.m. that morning to go to an acquaintance's house. It was not clear if she brought her daughter with her, and prosecutors did not say how long they believe the child had been in the car before she was discovered.

The complaint says investigators took temperature readings from inside the car that read higher than 150 degrees. The child's body temperature was recorded at 106 degrees when she was found, prosecutors said.

Harris told dispatchers she had taken the anti-depressant Trazodone so she could fall asleep, according to the transcripts of the 911 calls.

SDPD Child Abuse Unit investigators took over the case the next day but no charges were filed in connection with the toddler's death until Sept. 19.

If Harris is convicted of the child abuse charge, she could face 12 years in prison. She is due back in court Oct. 2.

Two days after Harris' daughter died, two adults suspected of overdosing were taken from the home on Leary Street to an area hospital.

Harris wasn't involved in the suspected overdose but she was taken to a local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, according to the San Diego Police Department.

Leary Street is located south of Tierrasanta Boulevard and west of Santo Road. The neighborhood is filled with housing used by U.S. personnel from local military bases.

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