A Fresno woman who left a 101-year-old man in her car on a hot day last August will serve no additional jail time, a Fresno County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday.
Judge Donald Penner credited Tina Ann Johnson, 46, of Auberry, for four days jail time and said she will serve no more time, even though a probation report recommended she serve three years behind bars.
Penner also reduced Johnson's felony count to a misdemeanor and ruled she would not be put on probation.
Johnson pleaded no contest to a count of inflicting injury on an elderly person.
Raymond Messer was found inside a car in the Clovis Walmart parking lot on Aug. 4 in apparent distress from the heat. The temperature that day was in the high 90s.
Johnson was found at a McDonald's restaurant inside the store an hour after police arrived, the Clovis Police Department said.
But throughout her court hearings, Johnson was supported by Messer's family members.
In previous hearings, they said Johnson always gave Messer excellent care. Asked Wednesday by Penner whether any of Messer's family members felt differently, they shook their heads to indicate they did not.
Messer was released from the hospital the same day and had no injuries from the incident, doctors' reports said.
In sentencing Johnson, Penner acknowledged how difficult it can be to care for the elderly, especially "an individual who was as proud as Mr. Messer."
Because Messer did not want to go inside the store with Johnson, she had left him in the front seat with a cup of water mixed with Gatorade, said Johnson's daughter, Chentelle Miller. Even in the warmest weather, Messer wanted to be warm, turning heat on inside the car and wearing a vest.
"My mom would make sure he would always have liquid," Miller told the judge. "He was very well taken care of, and she loved him like he was her own father."
Outside the courtroom after the sentencing, members of both families hugged one another.
"It was the right thing to do," said David Mugridge, Johnson's lawyer. "He was a difficult elderly man to take care of."
Messer passed away about two months later, weeks shy of his 102nd birthday. His death was unrelated to that hot day, lawyers said.
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