Bail for a woman charged in connection to the death of her infant son was set Monday at $250,000, records show.
Elizabeth Anne Case, 36, of Toney, has been in the Limestone County jail since being charged with reckless murder Saturday. Authorities allege she left her 13-month-old son in a locked car for several hours.
It's not the first brush with the law for Case, who has a lengthy criminal history. She has faced multiple misdemeanor and felony charges dating back to 2011. Previous charges include possession of a controlled substance, theft, domestic violence, burglary, receiving stolen property and fraudulent use of a credit card.
Case was out on bond from a previous robbery arrest when the child died.
The News Courier asked the Alabama Department of Human Resources why, in light of her criminal record, Case would have been allowed to retain custody of the infant. Spokesman Barry Spear said investigations into a parent must first start with an abuse report. During the assessment phase, or at any point of involvement, if a child is determined to be at imminent risk, actions to initiate removal will begin.
“There are often safety threats identified that do not yield imminent risk as there are caregivers with sufficient capacity to protect in place,” Spear said in a statement. “Incarceration or criminal history alone does not impact a person's parental rights unless the convictions are around child maltreatment, murder, etc.”
Tracy Miller, director of the Limestone County DHR, was unavailable for comment Monday.
About the case
Limestone County Sheriff's Office deputy and public information officer Stephen Young said it is believed Case left the infant in her vehicle from Friday night until Saturday afternoon.
Saturday's high was in the mid-90s, and according to heatkills.org, a car's interior could be as hot as 129 degrees after just 30 minutes. Temperatures can rise 43 degrees within an hour, depending on whether a vehicle is shaded or in direct sunlight.
Young said deputies responded Saturday afternoon to the intersection of Alabama 251 and U.S. 31. Athens police and Athens Fire & Rescue were at the scene with a vehicle containing the child, Case and the child's grandmother. The baby was transported to Athens-Limestone Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Investigators determined Case left her residence in the 19000 block of East Limestone Road between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday. Her child was buckled into a front-facing car seat that was not secured to the vehicle. Young said Case traveled with the child, "dumpster diving" in both Limestone and Madison counties, and returned home 5:40 a.m. Saturday.
He added the baby was still in the vehicle when Case went inside and went to bed.
Young said Case awoke around 1:30 p.m. when the baby’s grandmother came to the residence to see him. She woke Case up by banging on the door, Young said. After searching for the baby, they found him in the vehicle.
Instead of seeking immediate medical help, Young said Case took the child in the home and placed him in the shower. The grandmother called 911, loaded the child in the car with Case and met Athens police at the Recreation Center at Alabama 251 and U.S. 31.
Investigators developed probable cause to arrest Case for murder and transported her to the Limestone County Jail.
Funds have been established to help pay for the funeral of the infant, identified on social media posts as Casen Case. A gofundme (https://bit.ly/321kU6U) account was established by Casen's aunt, Laura Uselton. A separate social media post said another account, Casen's Memorial Fund, had been set up at Redstone Federal Credit Union under the name Laura Barnett.