Mother sentenced to six years for death of 4-month-old son

Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 11:53am
Staff reports
0329 ArnesaHart mug.jpg
Arnes’a Hart  

Arnes’a Hart, the 24-year-old woman who pleaded guilty earlier this year to criminally negligent homicide and child neglect, was sentenced Thursday to six years in jail for the death of her 4-month-old son.

A Davidson County grand jury indicted Hart last summer on charges of first-degree felony murder and two counts of child neglect after her youngest son, Sir Rodrick Polk-Donaldson, was found dead inside a room at a Music Valley Drive hotel on Feb. 20, 2011.

The investigation determined that Hart worked as a desk clerk at the hotel and had left her 3-year-old son and the Polk-Donaldson in one of the vacant rooms.

According to a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, testimony during the sentencing hearing revealed that the children were left unattended for a five-hour period. Investigators determined that the 3-year-old had rolled over onto the infant while sleeping and smothered the 4-month-old to death.

Both parties in the criminal case agreed to Hart’s six-year sentence. Thursday’s sentencing hearing was to determine whether that sentence would be served in jail or on probation.

6 Comments on this post:

By: jeffrey31 on 3/29/12 at 4:43

A very sad story. It seems likely to me that if this had happened at home this woman would not have faced such severe charges (felony first degree murder?!?). She could have been watching tv in the living room for a bit and left her kids asleep on the same bed, and the end result might be the same. I presume it doesn't take 5 hours to smother a child, so the frequency she checked on them might not (even probably not) have prevented it.

She made a bad decision here in leaving the children, one that will follow her all her life. But I also wonder the context of that decision. Maybe she couldn't afford child care, especially if she was a single mom working the night shift (full time care for two very small children can run well over $1500 month at a quality day care not including any premium for night time care, though there are somewhat cheaper options available. If she made $10/hour in her job, almost her entire salary for a month of work would be consumed by child care). Maybe her regular sitter cancelled at the last moment and she had no other option but to sneak the children into a vacant room than miss a day's work or even get fired if she had been absent too many times (infants get sick, need doctor's appointments, etc). Though there is a possibility she didn't care about her children and was truly negligent, she could have been doing the best she could in a very difficult situation. That doesn't absolve her of responsibility, but it puts her failure in perspective. I hope her lawyer tried to present a fuller set of facts to the jury than we get here.

By: jeffrey31 on 3/29/12 at 4:46

Well, strike the comments about the jury, but I still hope her lawyer presented a good case to the prosecutor in their plea bargain negotiations.

By: NewYorker1 on 3/30/12 at 9:24

So sad. What I don't understand is why someone would have children and can't afford it? Raising a child is very expensive and people need to start taking that into account before they decide to have children. There's no excuse these days with all the forms of birth control available. If you have a child these days, it's by choice. With that said, if you are can barely make it financially for yourself, then you should not be having kids. It's just that simple.

By: NewYorker1 on 3/30/12 at 9:31

I am constantly telling the youth in my family, both male and female, to choose a partner that is college educated, six-figured salary, excellent credit scores, no debt, in good physical and mental health before you get involved and especially before you get married and start a family. They need to know what type of family they come from and their family's financial situation too, because you don't want to marry someone who's family member will be asking for money and handouts all the damn time.

By: beachbabygirrl on 4/4/12 at 8:51

New Yorker, thanks for the laugh.

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could find someone with a six figure income, no debt, excellent credit scores, great health, well guess what... You are delusional.

That is a great goal to strive for but chances are it's not going to happen.

The men your daughters grow up and marry, may already have a child. They may be divorced or widowed, they may work at a theme park making 9.00 an hour. They may have had to drop out of high school to support their family because his dad might have died young.

What I an trying to tell you is just because someone doesn't have a six figure income, has debt, student loans, medical bills, car payments, house payments, has a child from a previous relationship does not make them any less of a person than your "ideal" mate.
If you are going to dream, dream big but when you fall in love, nothing else matters.

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