Dijanelle Fowler, the 25-year-old mother who left her 13-month-old daughter in a car for six hours during a hair appointment, plead guilty on Jan. 31 and will serve 15 years for the child’s death.
DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said Fowler entered a non-negotiated guilty plea to charges of murder in the second degree, cruelty to children in the second degree, and concealing the death in connection with the death of her daughter, Skylar Fowler.
DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Linda Hunter, who presided over the case, sentenced Fowler to 20 years to serve 15 years in prison with the balance on probation. The court rejected the State’s recommendation of a 40-year prison sentence.
District Attorney Boston expressed disappointment with the sentence.
“Baby Skylar deserved more. This family deserved more,” said Boston. “Dijanelle Fowler made a conscious decision that day which cost an innocent child her life. We believe our recommendation was appropriately aligned with the facts and circumstances of this case. We are disheartened by this less punitive outcome.”
According to the investigation, Fowler left her toddler buckled in her car seat in the rear of her vehicle while she visited a Lavista Road hair salon in Tucker on the morning of June 15, 2017. Detectives said when Fowler returned to the car approximately six hours later, she discovered her child’s lifeless body inside of the scorching vehicle. The air-conditioner, which she later told detectives she left running, was no longer working after apparently draining the vehicle’s battery. Instead of seeking medical attention, Fowler sought assistance to jumpstart her disabled car while concealing the child’s body.
Authorities say Fowler then drove to the parking lot of Emory University Hospital and made repeated calls to 911 claiming she was suffering from a seizure. Medical staff responded to the parked vehicle where they discovered the body of Baby Skylar.
During the investigation, detectives found multiple inconsistencies in Fowler’s accounts of the circumstances surrounding the child’s death. Warrants were issued for Fowler’s arrest.
Deputy Chief District Attorney Dalia Racine, head of the District Attorney’s Sexual Exploitation and Crimes Against Children Unit, prosecuted the case with assistance from DA Investigators Tina Fleming and C.D. Smith. Detective K.E. McQuilkin of the DeKalb Police Department led the initial investigation.