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Black Dad Charged with Murder for Leaving Baby in Hot Car, Lawyer Claims ‘Blatant Racism’ for Inconsistencies in Charges

Joshua Lewis Blunt and his 8-month-old daughter, Shania Rihanna Caradine. Photo courtesy of WAPT.com
Joshua Lewis Blunt and his 8-month-old daughter, Shania Rihanna Caradine. Photo courtesy of WAPT.com

A Mississippi father has been charged with murder after his 8-month-old daughter died in a hot car Thursday.

According to the Clarion-Ledger, Joshua Lewis Blunt left his infant daughter, Shania Rihanna Caradine, in his car for “some period of time” while he worked inside a restaurant located on Scenic Loop 333. A passerby noticed the baby in the vehicle and quickly contacted 911.

It was unclear how long the child had been inside the car, but Grenada County Deputy Coroner Jo Morman told the Clarion-Ledger the baby was “hyperthermic” when she was discovered. The infant was then taken inside the restaurant and later “rushed outside” once paramedics arrived, the paper reports.  Little Shania was transported to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where she was later pronounced dead.

This is Mississippi’s second hot-car death in the last two weeks, WLBT reports.

According to the news station, a 2-year-old in Madison County died after she was accidentally left in an overheated car. Per Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker, the toddler’s mother went to work and forgot her child in the back of the vehicle. When she went to pick up her daughter from day care later that day, the staffers informed her that she never dropped the child off, the Clarion-Ledger reports.

Unlike Blunt, however, the Madison County mother never faced criminal charges, leaving many to think that the 25-year-old’s arrest and conviction were racially motivated, according to WLBT.

“Most certainly not,” said Major George Douglas of the Granada Police Department. “This police department doesn’t investigate cases based on race or gender or religion. We just investigate the facts, that I am not at liberty to discuss at the moment, that lead us to this point.”

The mother’s race has yet to be revealed.

Blunt’s lawyer, Carlos Moore, also blames “blatant racism” for his client’s second-degree murder charge.

“The people making the decisions are white,” Moore said. “It’s unquestionably related to racism. If this man had been any other color besides Black, I believe he would be at home, grieving like a normal father and preparing for a funeral.”

On Monday, the attorney also told the Clarion-Ledger that he expects his client’s charge to be reduced to culpable negligence, which carries a sentence of up to one year behind bars. Moore’s claim was backed up by Grenada City Prosecutor Jennifer Adams, according to the Washington Post.

Moore described Blunt’s situation as a “tragic accident” that stemmed from a hectic Thursday morning.

“He thought he had dropped the child off at her grandmother’s house,” the attorney explained to the Clarion-Ledger. “He had no idea the child was in there.”

Moore also says his client is “a basket case” and visibly “distraught” about what happened, the Washington Post reports.

Family friend Rhonda Hubbard told WLBT it’s hard to believe Blunt would do something like this.

“My initial reaction is very shocked, very devastating, but it can happen,” she said.

According to the Clarion-Ledger, Blunt remains in the Grenada County jail on a $250,000 bond. His daughter’s body has since been sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy to determine the official cause of death.

The Granada Police Department also issued a statement on the tragic incident, which reads:

“The Grenada Police victim advocate is working to assist the mother, Candice Caradine as well as the father Joshua Blunt. The Grenada Police Department is saddened because of this death. The Grenada Police would like to caution parents to check their vehicles to insure that children are not left inside unattended during the hot summer months.”

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