Family affected by hot car death testifies in court, accused await ruling


PORTALES, N.M. (KRQE) – Are a mother and daughter daycare workers who left two kids in a hot car, killing one of them, such a threat they should stay locked up? That is what a judge was tasked with determining Thursday.

It was an emotional hearing in Portales. The family of the mother and daughter accused in this case filled one side of the courtroom. The other side was filled with the family of 1-year-old Maliyah Jones who died after being left in a hot car, arguing they shouldn’t be released before trial.

What happened inside the Taylor Tot’s daycare in Portales last week was replayed in court Thursday.

“I heard screaming inside,” said Officer Amador Lujan. “One of the defendants holding one of the babies she was unclothed and unconscious at the time,” Lujan said.

It was heartbreaking testimony for the family of Maliyah Jones, who died after being left in a hot car for nearly two hours, along with 2-year-old Aubri Loya, who remains on a ventilator with brain damage.

When officers played the lapel video from that day, there were sobs from Mary and Sandi Taylor, who are accused of failing to follow protocol and do a head count after a trip to the park. Ten kids made in inside safely, two did not.

It was also revealed in court Thursday that Maliyah Jones’ temperature registered at 109 degrees at the time of her death.

“They get to go home and be with her baby and I will never get to see my baby again,” said Ericka Tafoya, Maliyah’s mother.

Maliyah’s family, wearing purple T-shirts bearing her picture, asked the judge to keep the pair locked up.

Officers testified the pair lied to the toddler’s parents about how long the kids were really in the car. Prosecutors argued the Taylors are a danger to the community and a flight risk.

“That’s 36 years each defendant is facing and that changes the ball game as far as gravity of situation,” said District Attorney Andrea Reed.

Mary and Sandi Taylor’s family also filled the courtroom Thursday to vouch for them.

“They are good people, just an accident that happened,” said Patsy Dodge, Mary Taylor’s sister. “They would comply with everything and we would make sure as a family.”

There were a lot of questions Thursday about why the pair failed to do a head count. When detectives questioned them, they said they often relied on the kids they were watching to get out of the car on their own — but these kids were too small to do that.

Aubrianna Loya’s family was not in court Thursday only because they are still at her side at a Lubbock hospital.

The judge says she will announce her decision about whether to keep the pair locked up in the next 48 hours.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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