Michigan's child-restraint law will get its first legal test when a woman stands trial on a charge of negligent homicide in the death of her friend's 22-month-old daughter.
Patrice Carter, 21, of Taylor, could be sentenced to up to two years in prison if convicted. She was bound over for trial Tuesday.Paris Straughter was killed March 4 when Carter's 2-year-old daughter accidentally opened a rear car door while Carter was driving to the store. The child tumbled out of the car and fell under the rear wheel.
Michigan law requires children under 1 to be in a safety seat when riding in a vehicle. Children ages 1-4 must be in a safety seat if sitting in the front, but can use lap and shoulder belts elsewhere.
The 1978 four-door Chevy Nova Carter was driving had no seat belts or child seats.
"This will send a message to people that it is important and you should buckle kids in, as the law requires," said Taylor Police Sgt. Leonard Paquette.
Carter's attorney, Ira Harris, said Carter was "shattered" by the child's death. Harris said the dead girl's mother was in court Tuesday to show her support for Carter, who is free on $2,500 bond.
In a similar case that drew national attention, a Florida jury last year acquitted a man who had been charged with vehicular homicide in the death of his 3-year-old daughter who was riding in her mother's arms when a crash killed her.