The mother of a child who died in an April car fire in a Boise Walmart parking lot pleaded guilty to two counts of felony injury to a child Thursday.
Jennifer A. Miller, 31, who is accused of falling asleep with her two children in their car in the early morning hours of April 10, said she used an open-flame cooking device to heat the vehicle, according to court documents.
Miller was initially charged with a total of five crimes, though three charges were dropped because of a plea agreement. Miller was allegedly on a controlled substance at the time of the incident, according to police.
Miller pleaded guilty to the charges, one for each child in her care at the time. The two charges of injury to a child carry a sentence of one to 10 years in prison each. Allie Nicole Rose, 4, died in the fire while 1-year-old Lane Rose experienced significant burns during the incident.
The specific charges, which stem from “circumstances likely to produce bodily harm or death, willfully cause or permit the person or health of a child to be injured,” are due to the use of the cooking device in an enclosed area despite warning labels. Miller said she stopped at a gas station on Overland Road to meet with the children’s father, Nicolas Rose. Miller explained in court that the family had recently been evicted and were homeless at the time.
Miller told the court that she gave gas money to Rose because his vehicle had run out of gas. After buying gas and purchasing food for the children, Rose brought a cooking device into the vehicle. Rose then left after receiving a phone call with a potential lead on money for a hotel.
Miller and her children slept in the car that night. At approximately 3 a.m., Miller said, her daughter woke her up because she was cold. Miller said she then turned the cooking device on and fell asleep without intending to. At 3:30 a.m., she was again awoken by her daughter, who was screaming due to flames in the car.
Miller said she took Lane Rose, who was in the front seat, out of the car and attempted to free her daughter in the backseat. The door was broken, however, and Miller was forced to go around to the other door.
“As I was getting her out, there was an explosion between us and she didn’t make it,” Miller said in her tearful testimony.
Miller’s bond hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Sept. 20, while her sentencing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 15.