A woman accused in the heat death of her four year old son pleaded guilty Monday to a manslaughter charge. Stephanie Coogle, 24, was sentenced to four years in prison by Circuit Judge Kevin Moulton. She applied for probation and a hearing on that matter is set for July 24.
Coogle and her common-law husband, Christopher Aldridge, were charged after their son, Shawn, became trapped inside the family's SUV. Aldridge was found not guilty earlier this year of a similar charge.
Police contend the boy could have been inside the vehicle for up to nine hours with temperatures as outside temperatures soared well into the 90's. The youngster---according to investigators--- climbed inside after his parents were involved domestic argument. Coogle, according to reports, went to a neighbor's house while Aldridge remained home. Police say the child could not get out because the interior handles of the SUV were broken. An autopsy showed Shawn died from heat exhaustion.
Coogle was released from jail last week after her bond was reduced from $200,000 to $10,000, which signaled some type of plea arrangement was in the works. However, defense attorney Cada Carter said there was no specific arrangement reached until Monday when trial was scheduled.
"We're happy," Carter said. "You never know what a jury will do.". Judge Moulton gave Coogle credit for 11 months spent in jail following her arrest in June, 2010.
District Attorney Douglas Albert Valeska was trying a separate case Monday morning and was not immediately available for comment.
Coogle will remain free on bail until her probation request is decided.