A Forsyth County mother who left her 2-year-old son home alone in a trash-filled home this summer received a 10-year court sentence Thursday afternoon.
Stephanie Nichole Davis, 22, pleaded guilty in Forsyth County Superior Court to one count each of first degree cruelty to children, second degree cruelty to children and reckless conduct.
Davis will serve 18 months in state prison and the remaining 8.5 years on probation.
Addressing Judge David Dickinson, Davis said she knew she was leaving her son alone June 21 as she left to go out with friends for a birthday gathering at a sports bar in Roswell.
“I was off my meds at that point, and I wasn’t thinking clearly,” she said.
According to Assistant District Attorney Michael Mahoney, the incident came to light the next day when Davis, after being arrested for driving under the influence in Roswell, called her mother.
Deputies went to Davis’ Boxer Lane home in north Forsyth after her mother called to share her suspicions the boy was not being watched, Mahoney said.
Neighbors said Davis had left the home about 7 p.m. June 21, and deputies discovered her son home alone at 8:40 a.m. June 22 while Davis was in Fulton County custody, he said.
The child was covered in feces and flea bites and locked in a room with no food and “rancid water,” Mahoney said.
He said deputies also described the home as being covered in garbage.
Davis told Dickinson she had stopped taking medication for a mental disorder about two weeks earlier because she’d run out and couldn’t afford the visit to the doctor to obtain more.
While out drinking with friends on June 21, Davis said she was concerned about her son, “but not enough to come home.”
According to Davis, she had given her son a bath and changed his diaper before putting him to bed and leaving.
As far as the home’s condition, Davis said she “wouldn’t consider it deplorable,” adding that the dishes hadn’t been done and the garbage was piled up outside because she didn’t have curbside service and hadn’t yet taken the bags to be disposed.
Davis expressed concern about regaining custody of her son, who is under the care of the Department of Children and Family Services.
The child’s father is in a work-release program through a jail in a nearby county, according to Mahoney.
Davis said she didn’t have an excuse for her actions, and was “actually very thankful” for what happened because the arrest kept her life situation from continuing down a worse path.
“I want to get out and get my son back,” she said.
Davis said she also gave birth to a daughter, now 18 months, whom she gave up for adoption to relatives in January.
As a condition of her probation, Dickinson said Davis will not be allowed to be the caregiver for any minor child.
She will, however, have an opportunity to regain custody of her son with permission of her probation officer and provided she meets all the requirements of DFCS, including impressing the juvenile court judge by making positive life changes, said her attorney, Christopher Willis.
Dickinson also ordered a $1,000 fine, 120 hours of community service, required parenting classes, a mental health evaluation and any subsequent required treatment.
He called the offense “horrendous.”
“There’s no reason whatsoever a child of 2 should be left alone,” Dickinson said. “It’s very fortunate that he was not physically harmed.”