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Drugs, alcohol ruled out in death of toddler in car

SHARE Drugs, alcohol ruled out in death of toddler in car

LEWISTON, Idaho — A prosecutor says alcohol and drugs were not factors when a 33-year-old woman left her 15-month-old step-grandson in a parked car for more than five hours with temperatures topping 95 degrees.

The toddler, Patrick Graber Jr., was pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday, according to court records.

Clearwater County Prosecutor Clayne Tyler said Rita Johnston was cooperating with authorities. Johnston forgot about the child after going inside a male friend's house and falling asleep, investigators said.

Tyler said Johnston has no criminal record and no history of being irresponsible with grandchildren.

"She's always been responsible with those kids," said the boy's father, Patrick Graber, who also has a 2-year-old daughter. "I've never had a problem with leaving them with her at all."

Johnston has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony injury to a child. She was being held in the Clearwater County Jail on a $15,000 bond.

Public defender Jack Hathaway said he arranged a meeting between Johnston and the boy's mother, 20-year-old Amanda Graber, and the two women were overcome with grief.