Callie Thornton
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A foster mom who left a 9-month-old girl in a closed minivan, where the infant died of heat stroke, has been sentenced to probation, a fine and a community service.

Wendy Osborne, 31, received 12 months' probation and a $1,000 fine and was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor.

"There is no way the court can lessen the anger and frustration of those who loved the child," Judge Bob Adamson said at last week's sentencing in Jackson County Superior Court, according to the Braselton News. "This act is at the highest level of criminality of a misdmeanor involuntary manslaughter charge. If not for the recommendation of the district attorney, the court would have considered [jail] time in this case."

Osborne told authorities she returned from a doctor's appointment about 2:30 p.m. Sept. 2, 2008, and took her two adopted 3-year-old girls into her Nicholson home. She forgot about the baby in the car seat.

Osborne said she fell asleep, waking around 5 p.m. Then she remembered the baby in the minivan. The girl, Jessica Marie Scovil, was pronounced dead by emergency personnel called to the scene.
Osborne told authorities she had been sick for several days and was taking medication, which might have contributed to her drowsiness.

The infant had been living with Osborne for five months. Her birth parents were on the verge of regaining custody at the time of Jessica's death, relatives told the court.

"I will never understand how anyone could leave a 9-month-old baby in a hot van to die," said Jessica's grandmother, Georgia Nicholas, according to the Braselton News.
Osborne and her husband, Chris, had fostered several children before Jessica. Osborne even helped train new foster parents.

Before sentencing, witnesses testified on Osborne's behalf. "I can't imagine that any punishment you can give her can be worse than what she's already been through," said Osborne's pastor, the Rev. Kent Barry, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. "She deals with this every day. She still has her two [5-year-olds] to care for, and when she looks at them, she can't help but see Jessica."
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