Details of the case
A grandmother in Oklahoma is facing possible murder charges. She left her 5-year-old grandson in her car in a casino car park while she was gambling and the boy died as a result.
The woman is Alanna Jean Orr, a 50-year-old grandmother. A grand jury indicted her on April 17 for second-degree murder charges and she was arraigned on April 19 in Oklahoma’s US District Court.
She met her $5,000 (3,859) bail to secure release. The stipulations are that she has to live with her sister, she cannot enter any form of gaming facility or gamble online, and she also cannot be the caretaker of any child.
The allegations against Orr stem from an incident that took place at the Kickapoo Casino in Harrah, Oklahoma, in June 2018. The Kickapoo tribe owns two casinos in the state, but they have no affiliation with the Harrah’s brand (whose parent company is Caesar’s Entertainment).
The harrowing incident
According to the prosecutors, the woman was in the casino for just over 6 hours during the afternoon of June 21. Surveillance footage shows Orr arriving at the facility at 1:23 pm and leaving at 7:28 pm. The casino is approximately 25 miles east of Oklahoma City and the temperatures outside that day were up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Approximately 15 minutes after Orr left the casino, she made contact with the authorities after she found that her grandson was unable to breathe. She told them he was choking on an object.
Officers from the Harrah Police Department were met by Orr at their station. Their attempts to resuscitate the child, unfortunately, were not successful. They could see that rigor mortis was already beginning.
Because the death took place on tribal land, Orr faces federal charges. Prosecutors are pursuing a second-degree felony murder charge by child neglect on Indian land.
The prosecutors believe that Orr failed to provide proper shelter and supervision for a child whose safety, welfare, and health she was responsible for.
The maximum possible sentence is life in prison and a fine as high as $250,000. Orr is a Native American herself and the court hearing will take place during early June sometime.
Not an isolated case
Sadly, it is not rare for a child to be left in a vehicle for an extended period of time. Most of the time, it does not end tragically, but the figures are still too high.
There are many ways a child can be in danger when left alone in a car. They can choke on an object, get trapped in bad positions that can lead to choking or asphyxiation, or have issues due to the temperature.
It appears to be a particularly common occurrence at casinos. A lot of adults know they cannot bring their kids with them when they gamble, so they decide to leave them in the car instead. These people will often spend many hours inside of the casino while the child is alone in the vehicle.
It was a particularly bad year in 2018 for children dying in vehicles. There were 52 separate cases, which is an increase of about 37% over the normal annual figures.
This is particularly unsettling due to the extensive awareness campaigns to warn adults not to leave children in vehicles alone. There are calls for new regulations to better protect children.