Bristow Mom Pleads Guilty to Toddler's Death

Karen Murphy pleads guilty to two misdemeanor charges

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dr. Karen Murphy will do community service and no jail time for leaving her toddler in a hot van where he died in June 2011. News4's Julie Carey reports.

    A Bristow, Va., mother charged with killing her toddler after leaving him in the back of her hot minivan for seven hours pleaded guilty Monday.

    Karen Murphy pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of child neglect as part of a plea deal.  She initially faced several charges, including felony murder. 

    According to police, Murphy left 2-year-old Ryan Murphy in her 2010 Honda Odyssey minivan for seven hours last June. During that time, Murphy worked her shift at Caring Hand Animal Hospital and then drove home with her son still in the van.

    Prosecutors say Murphy’s husband went to pick up their toddler at day care, and that's when he was told his son wasn’t there. Around 4 p.m., Karen Murphy found her son in the back of her minivan, still and unresponsive.

    A neighbor performed CPR on the 2-year-old until rescue workers arrived. They pronounced Ryan dead at the scene shortly after.

    This was not the first time Murphy had forgotten her son in the family minivan. According to court documents, Murphy left Ryan in the minivan for about 20 minutes in January.

    The judge at the Prince William Circuit Court accepted Murphy’s plea agreement and sentenced her to 24 months in jail -- 12 for each count -- but then suspended all of that time and ordered Murphy to serve six years of probation and 400 hours of community service at a local animal shelter.

    Murphy has been in touch with an organization called “KidsAndCars.” The organization's mission is to raise public awareness about the deaths of kids left in or around vehicles. This is something Murphy is doing on her own and is not part of her plea deal.