MOTHER PLEADS GUILTY TO MURDER, CRUELTY CHARGES FOR 'HOT CAR' DEATH OF CHILD
State vs. Dijanelle Fowler
Decatur, Ga.- DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston announces a conviction by guilty plea in the case against a South Carolina woman accused of murder in the heat-induced death of her toddler whom she left in a car during a hair appointment. During court proceedings Wednesday, 25-year-old Dijanelle Fowler entered a guilty plea to charges of Murder in the Second Degree, Cruelty to Children in the Second Degree, and Concealing the Death of Another in connection with the death of her 13-month-old daughter, Skylar Fowler.
The charges against Defendant Fowler stem from a series of events beginning on the morning of June 15, 2017. According to the investigation, Defendant Fowler left the child buckled in her car seat in the rear of her vehicle while she visited a Lavista Road hair salon in Tucker. When she returned to the car approximately six hours later, detectives say Fowler discovered the body of her lifeless child inside of the scorching vehicle. The air conditioner, which she later told detectives she left running, was no longer working after apparently draining the vehicle’s battery. Instead of seeking medical attention, the Defendant sought assistance to jumpstart her disabled car while concealing the child’s body.
Authorities say Defendant Fowler then drove to the parking lot of Emory University Hospital and made repeated calls to 911 claiming she was suffering from a seizure. Medical staff responded to the parked vehicle where they discovered the body of Baby Skylar.
Following a detailed investigation which revealed multiple inconsistencies in Defendant Fowler’s accounts of the circumstances surrounding the child’s death, warrants were issued for the mother’s arrest.
During court proceedings for Defendant Fowler’s non-negotiated guilty plea, prosecutors requested a sentence of 40 years to serve in prison. The Court rejected the State’s recommendation and sentenced the Defendant to 20 years to serve 15 years in prison with the balance on probation.
District Attorney Boston expressed disappointment with the sentence. “Baby Skylar deserved more. This family deserved more,” said Boston. Dijanelle Fowler made a conscious decision that day which cost an innocent child her life. We believe our recommendation was appropriately aligned with the facts and circumstances of this case. We are disheartened by this less punitive outcome.”
DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Linda Hunter presided over the case.
Deputy Chief District Attorney Dalia Racine, head of the District Attorney’s Sexual Exploitation and Crimes Against Children Unit, prosecuted the case with assistance from DA Investigators Tina Fleming and C.D. Smith. Detective K.E. McQuilkin of the DeKalb Police Department led the initial investigation.