Orange County woman gets four years probation in child's death

An Orange County woman who was babysitting a five year old boy when the child accidentally shot himself, was sentenced Wednesday to two years in jail.  Judge Don Burgess, who presided for absent Judge Courtney Arkeen, suspended the sentence for four years probation, meaning she will not serve jail time unless she violates the terms of her probation.  She will also have to pay a $1,000 fine.

Melissa Ringhardt , 19, pleaded guilty to one count of endangering a child earlier this year. 

A prosecutor said the law takes into consideration the defendant's young age and the fact that she didn't kill the child, but rather it was her negligence that lead to the child's death.

According to 12News file stories, Ringhardt claimed she was carrying a handgun because she was scared of being home alone on October 21, 2013 while babysitting John Allen Read, 5, and a six-month-old child. She told investigators she left the gun on a living room coffee table while she took a nap in a bedroom. She said she awoke to find John dead from a gunshot wound. The six month old was not harmed.

Ringhardt had been living with the Read family for a few months prior to the shooting.


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