HOUSTON, Texas — A Houston woman has been charged with abandoning a child after leaving her three-year-old cousin unattended in an apartment where a fire erupted from unattended cooking in the kitchen — the child died as a result of the fire.
Investigators also say the woman lied about going to the grocery store while the toddler slept, instead, they say, she met a male friend in the apartment's parking lot.
On Monday, March 11, 2019, 19-year-old Kiara Jones was babysitting her cousin, identified by family as 3-year-old Giovanni Lyles, at the Cozumel Apartments located in the 6400 block of Sierra Blanca Drive.
Jones initially told police that she had left to a nearby grocery store while the toddler slept and returned to the apartment on fire.
Through phone records, police determined Jones had exited the apartment at approximately 12:05 a.m. to meet a male friend in the parking lot of the apartment complex. A 911 call reporting the fire came in at 1:15 a.m., according to the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office.
"Jones is charged with abandoning a child because she left a 3-year-old unattended," read a statement from the fire marshal's office. "Her actions caused a sequence of events to occur, which resulted in the death of the child."
"This is the very definition of a tragic situation," said Fire Marshal Laurie L. Christensen. "This is a case of negligence. An individual chose to ignore her responsibilities and that resulted in the death of a child. The law is clear in this situation."
An arrest warrant has been issued for Jones for abandoning a child, a second-degree felony.
Jones' booking photo released today is from her arrest on February 22, 2019, for leaving the scene of an accident.