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Woman accused of leaving children in hot vehicle while shoplifting

Woman accused of leaving children in hot vehicle while shoplifting

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A Bismarck woman is accused of leaving two small children alone in a car while she was busy shoplifting on Friday.

Dawn Yvette Morsette, 23, was charged Monday in South Central District Court in Burleigh County with felony child neglect and in Bismarck Municipal Court with one count of misdemeanor theft of property.

The felony charge carries a potential five-year sentence if she is convicted. She pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor offense and received three days in jail.

Bismarck Police Sgt. Mark Buschena said officers were called around 2 p.m. Friday for separate reports, both of which were connected to Morsette. 

One officer received a report that Morsette took nearly $40 worth of merchandise from shelves at Walmart, 2717 Rock Island Place, and attempted to get a refund for it at the returns counter.

The second officer was called for a report of two children, ages 5 and 3, left alone in a locked vehicle, determined to belong to Morsette. 

Buschena said the 5-year-old was "somewhat alert" while the 3-year-old complained of feeling sick, was hot to the touch and had clothing drenched with sweat. 

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in Bismarck approached 80 degrees. Inside a vehicle, that can translate to temperatures between 131 and 172 degrees, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The NHTSA report states that approximately 25 children a year die as a result of being left inside a hot vehicle.

(Reach Andrew Sheeler at 701-250-8225 or andrew.sheeler@bismarcktribune.com.)

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