Woman faces two felony charges in death of 4-month-old

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ANNISTON, Ala. (WIAT) – UPDATE:  According to Papke’s lawyer, James Sturdivant, Papke had recently returned from maternity leave.

Sturdivant says Friday was also the first day of school in the area, and after dropping off her other children at their respective schools, Papke went to work.

Papke, who Sturdivant says is a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army and has served two tours in Afghanistan, believed she had dropped her child off at the daycare.

He says Papke returned to her van and found the child and then called 911.

“As a single mother, as a soldier, she has a lot on her and what this situation is, is a case of someone who has a lot on them and they make a horrible mistake,” Sturdivant said of Papke.

ORIGINAL: Katherine Papke, 35, has been charged in connection with the death of 4-month-old Bennett Owen Smith, her son, over the weekend.

Smith died in a parking lot in the 400 block of Goode Road on Friday.

Papke has been charged with two felony charges – manslaughter and leaving a child under 7 years old alone in a car. According to police, Papke is the first person in Anniston who has faced the newly-enacted felony charge of leaving a child alone in a car.

The Calhoun County Coroner confirmed the baby’s death is related to heat exposure.

“[Papke] was taken to jail on both charges, $50,000 bond on each charge, totaling $100,000,” Sgt. Chris Sparks with the Anniston Police Department said. “She posted bond Saturday night. Since then, the child has been sent to the Department of Forensic Sciences.”

The full report from the coroner has not been released at this time.

“It doesn’t matter if you have children hurt or not, it’s awful to have children hurt in any way, shape or form,” Sparks added. “Our job is to separate ourselves from the situation and work the case just like any person.”

The district attorney is actively involved in the investigation.

Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42

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