Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


SYLVA, N.C. -- A mother whose son died of heat exposure in her car while she worked a double shift at nursing home was found not guilty Monday of charges related to his death.

A jury deliberated about four hours before returning the not guilty verdict in the case of Michelle Gibson of Asheville on Monday, the one-year anniversary of the death of her 8-year-old son, Devin Gibson.

"My heart, my soul and my mind is grateful," Gibson said after the verdict. " ... I want to go on and rest and let my son rest."

They jury considered charges of second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter. The jury also considered two counts of felony child abuse or two counts of misdemeanor child abuse.

Prosecutors said that for at least some of the time that Gibson worked, Devin was kept in the trunk of her 2001 Ford Escort. Gibson testified Thursday, denying that she locked Devin in the trunk of her car but saying she was responsible for his death.

Gibson told investigators that she had no one to care for Devin while she worked a 16-hour shift as a nursing assistant at the Jackson County nursing home, so she took him to work with her that day.

After the verdict was returned, Gibson said she would work as an advocate for child care for the working poor.

Assistant District Attorney Roy Wijewickrama said Gibson used her words -- not a lock or restraints -- to make Devin stay in the car.

"She told him to stay in the vehicle and use the diapers if he needed to go to the bathroom," Wijewickrama said. "And he did. He died listening to his mom."

The murder charge carried a sentence of up to 16 years in prison.


Not Guilty? Responsibility was admitted? How oh how could such a verdict be just?


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