An Edmond mother on probation for DUI has again been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, but this time, police say, she put her children in danger as well. Reports say Sheba Marie Cusack, 26, was under the influence of drugs when she ran into a curb near a convenience store. When she pulled into the parking lot, witnesses discovered that the allegedly impaired driver had her 5-year-old child in the car.
But that is not all.
As police questioned her, Cusack told them that she left another child at home alone. She said she left the baby, only 9 months old, at her apartment, strapped into a car seat and placed in front of a television.
The children were taken into protective custody, and their mother was arrested on multiple complaints, including DUI, child endangerment, child neglect, and public intoxication.She was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail on October 1, where she remains in custody as of this writing.
The woman has a previous DUI on her record. In early 2013, she was arrested for DUI and given a 3-year deferred sentence. Because this is her second DUI, the charge will be a felony. Since she is still serving probation from the first DUI, her sentencing will likely be accelerated, and it will become a conviction rather than a dismissal.
The most serious charge she faces, though, is child neglect. Leaving a baby strapped in a car seat and unattended can have deadly consequences. You may remember that recently, two parents in Norman were charged with second degree murder and child neglect after they allegedly left three young children--aged 4 months, 15 months, and 4 years--in a hotel room alone for nearly two hours. Reports say that the parents strapped a 15-month-old child into his car seat before leaving, and that when they returned, the child had slipped down in the seat and was strangled by the chest buckles.
Fortunately, in the case, neither the child in the vehicle nor the infant left at home was harmed. Their mother, however, faces significant legal penalties. According to 21 O.S. § 843.5, the maximum penalty for child neglect is the same as for child abuse--up to life in prison.
Oklahoma law defines child neglect in 10A O.S. §1-1-105:
a. the failure or omission to provide any of the following:
- adequate nurturance and affection, food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, hygiene, or appropriate education,
- medical, dental, or behavioral health care,
- supervision or appropriate caretakers, or
- special care made necessary by the physical or mental condition of the child,
b. the failure or omission to protect a child from exposure to any of the following:
- the use, possession, sale, or manufacture of illegal drugs,
- illegal activities, or
- sexual acts or materials that are not age- appropriate, or
To learn more about Oklahoma child abuse and neglect laws, or to speak with an attorney about your case, call (405) 418-8888.
Image Credit: Josh Hallett