Mom charged in baby's death in hot van in 2009

Mug shot from prior arrest

August 22, 2011 7:02:17 PM PDT
A Tomball mother is charged with a felony after her infant son died, reportedly while she was on a drinking binge.

Jennifer Chastain, 29, is charged with injury to a child by omission. On Monday, September 28, 2009, Chastain brought her nine-month-old baby Nathaniel Nichols to the Tomball Hospital emergency room at about 10pm. According to court documents, she was reportedly intoxicated, and told officials she had found the baby, who was wearing only a diaper, dead inside her van.

A Harris County Sheriff's deputy interviewed Chastain at the hospital, and she reportedly told him that she began drinking alcohol the day before because she was upset her husband had left to work out of town for a month. She said she remembered putting the baby in his crib on Sunday, but didn't remember anything she had done on Monday.

Chastain told the deputy that on Monday evening she was awakened by a phone call from her husband, and she realized she didn't know where the baby was. After checking the house, she got into the van to go searching when she spotted Nathaniel in his car seat, where it's believed he had remained since 10am.

The medical examiner determined Nathaniel died as a result of heat exposure, and ruled the death a homicide.

Bail has been set at $30,000 in the case.

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