Judge orders home review for Va. mom charged in infant’s death

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Alexandria mother arrested after the death of her 8-month-old baby, who was left in a hot car all day, may be released on bond after officials conduct a review of her home.

Zoraida Magali Conde Hernandez, 32, has been charged with felony child neglect. During a hearing Wednesday in Arlington Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, Judge Esther L. Wiggins expressed concern for Conde Hernandez’s other children and ordered a review of her home environment.

The judge also ordered that Conde Hernandez not be alone with her surviving children. Officials with Arlington County’s Child Protective Services division will conduct the home review and ensure other family members can assume child care responsibilities.

If those conditions are met, the judge said she plans to set bond at $25,000 during a July 18 hearing, meaning Conde Hernandez may be released before trial.

The judge said Conde Hernandez will be allowed to attend her son’s funeral.

In charging documents, an Arlington County police detective says the infant had a body temperature of 108 degrees when pronounced dead at Alexandria Inova Hospital late Friday afternoon.

Detective Christine Everest said in the criminal complaint that Conde Hernandez drove to work on North Glebe Road and left her son in his car seat at approximately 9 a.m. The court document offers no explanation of why the mother allegedly left her son in the vehicle on a day when temperatures reached the 90s.

During Wednesday’s hearing, prosecutor Molly Newton said Conde Hernandez “forgot” her son was strapped in a car seat and “didn’t give a second thought” to the child while he was “just burning up to death.”

Newton said Conde Hernandez only noticed her son’s foot after she picked up her youngest daughter at daycare and the little girl kicked the back of the driver seat. Conde Hernandez then turned around, Newton said.

Defense attorney Rebecca Wade said the boy’s car seat had a canopy, which obstructed Conde Hernandez’s view. She said there’s no hint of a history of child neglect, and said Conde Hernandez is grieving and distraught.

Wade told the judge Conde Hernandez’s employer, the Archdiocese of Arlington, is standing by her and assisting with her child’s funeral.

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