Mom Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison After She Left Her Child in a Hot Car for Hours While She Partied

A 21-year-old mother of one has been found guilty of negligent homicide for her son’s death in 2018 when she left him in a car for hours. Ashley Howard’s little boy was just two years old when he passed away.

According to People, Caleb Hopkins died after being left in his mother’s car for a total of 14 hours. Howard will now spend 20 years in prison as a result of her actions.

RELATED: Toddler Dies in Hot Car After Dad Refused to Let Anyone Break Is Car Window and Pay for a Locksmith or Tow Truck

Ashley Maria Howard
Dawson County Sheriff’s Department

Mom Sentenced 20 Years for Leaving Son in Car While Partying

As The Billings Gazette reported, Howard left Caleb in the vehicle on June 25, 2018, to go party with friends. The mom did not retrieve her son until 1:00 p.m. on June 26. It’s unclear if she checked on him at any point during those 14 hours.

For eight of the 14 hours Caleb was left in his mom’s vehicle, temperatures climbed. After he was rushed to a local Billings, Montana hospital, doctors said the small child had a body temperature of 107 degrees.

One of my favorite photos of Caleb. Always smiling & happy. Let’s share some memories of Caleb if you’ve got any or kind…

Posted by Justice For CALEB on Saturday, August 18, 2018

Two days after being rushed to the hospital, Caleb passed away. His cause of death has been determined as hyperthermia. According to People, Howard told doctors she found her little boy “wrapped in a blanket.”

During Howard’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors told the judge that the mom never took responsibility for her son’s death. However, she would go on to address the court with a statement claiming why she struggles with that responsibility. 

“I struggle with saying that I killed my son because nobody wants to be the reason their son is no longer here. I miss him every day. I know that I will always love my son and I will always miss him.”

Posted by Justice For CALEB on Friday, August 17, 2018

Caleb’s paternal grandmother, Marsha Hopkins, also spoke at the sentencing hearing. “You will have to live with the fact that you alone killed Caleb,” Marsha told Howard, according to KULR8. “Do I think that you meant to? No. Do I think that you could have prevented it? Absolutely. You knew what could have happened if you left him in the car, and you made that choice.”

RELATED: Arizona Mom Arrested After She Fell Asleep and Her 3-Year-Old Daughter Escaped From Their Home and Into Their Hot Car

Howard has been in prison since she was arrested in August 2018, when she originally pleaded not guilty. The possibility of parole is restricted for the first 10 years.

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