Today's Paper Latest Coronavirus Elections Cooking 🔵 Covid Classroom Families Core values Story ideas iPad Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive
story.lead_photo.caption Wade Naramore is shown in this file photo.

5:10 P.M. UPDATE:

HOT SPRINGS — Judge Wade Naramore was inconsolable in the days after his 17-month-old son's death, his mother-in-law testified Thursday afternoon.

Jan Wright recalled how she learned of Thomas' hot-car death, telling jurors that as she baked a peach cobbler for friends around 3:05 p.m. July 24, 2015, she received a call from Naramore.

On the other end of the line, Wright said, she could only hear faint sounds before hearing screams get louder and eventually turn into wailing. The call, she presumed, related to Thomas' day at day care.

"Wade, I can't hear you," Wright said she kept repeating. As the call progressed, Thomas' grandmother said she could hear Naramore, unable to describe what had happened, screaming and asking her to call 911 before the conversation ended.

She then called her son, Spencer Wright, and her husband to seek guidance and help on how to respond to Naramore's plea.

Wright said her son later told her to come with her, not telling her what had specifically happened. The grandmother, suspecting the worst, repeatedly asked, "Thomas is dead, isn't he?" she testified.

Naramore remained shaken, unable to communicate the day of and in the days after, Wright said. At most times, his mother and wife, Ashley, were by his side, she said.

Wright said that the close-knit family stayed at her house for what she believed to be around two weeks. Naramore required medication after being unable to sleep at night — screaming and waking up on several occasions, she told the court.

Naramore's mother-in-law said she never felt resentment or placed blame on Naramore for her grandson's death.

"Not one second. Never, ever," Wright testified. "Those things can happen to anybody."

Naramore's brother-in-law, Spencer Wright, and Thomas' teacher also testified Thursday, each presenting their character accounts of the judge and interactions with Thomas.

Court proceedings ended around 4:40 p.m. after Spencer Wright's testimony.

The fifth and what is expected to be the final day of Naramore's negligent homicide trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. Friday.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

— Brandon Riddle

3:05 P.M. UPDATE:

HOT SPRINGS — The state on Thursday afternoon attempted to poke holes in defense expert Dr. David Diamond's testimony, calling into question statements made to him by Wade Naramore to help develop Diamond's "forgotten child syndrome" theory.

Prosecuting attorney Tom Young questioned Diamond on whether Naramore was in fact sleep deprived and enduring a chaotic morning the day of his toddler son's death last summer.

Diamond called Naramore's account subjective, with his potential stressors related to deviations from his typical schedule.

During cross-examination, Young also sought clarification on Naramore's daily routine, including the number of times the circuit judge took his son, Thomas, to day care.

Diamond said that while he had researched certain documents such as the day care sign-in log, he did not feel it necessary to cite specific figures in determining his findings as he saw them.

— Brandon Riddle

12:45 P.M. UPDATE:

HOT SPRINGS — Before a lunch break in the negligent homicide trial of Wade Naramore, defense expert Dr. David Diamond presented four common causes for leaving children unattended in vehicles.

Those causes, he said, were chaotic or atypical circumstances, sleep deprivation, stress or distraction and absence of a cue to indicate a child was in a vehicle.

Referencing the case of 17-month-old Thomas' death, Diamond said additional responsibilities Naramore was tasked with that day, meeting with a violent offender set to appear in court and lack of sleep because of the toddler's teething, made him more likely to follow his habits rather than noticing his child.

Those habits, he said — referencing Naramore's routine pattern of leaving home, taking Thomas to day care and going to work — made him unaware that he had not taken his child to day care after an out-of-the-ordinary stop at McDonald's on July 24, 2015.

Diamond said that Thomas' quiet nature during much of the car ride after a typical morning prayer also played a role in Naramore being unaware that his son stayed in his car as he went about his work duties and later ran errands for he and his wife's anniversary.

The defense expert also presented an example of a mother who had left her child, Bryce Balfour, in a vehicle — calling that hot-car death a "horror beyond belief" — and part of a phenomenon that affects even those who say it could never happen to them.

The mother, Lyn Balfour, similarly told police, "I killed my baby," Diamond said.

The fourth day of Naramore's trial was set to resume around 1:15 p.m. Thursday.

Check back with Arkansas Online for updates on this developing story and read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

— Brandon Riddle


HOT SPRINGS — The fourth day of the negligent homicide trial of Wade Naramore began with an expert who was paid about $10,000 to testify.

Dr. David Diamond, a scientist and professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, has studied "forgotten child syndrome" for over 12 years.

The idea of a parent forgetting a child in a car was initially foreign to him, Diamond said. It was when a reporter contacted him in 2004 about a dentist whose child died after being left in a hot car that Diamond began researching the biology of the phenomenon.

"It could happen to anyone," Diamond said, a belief that was reinforced in 2009 when Diamond forgot his 6-month-old grandchild in the car.

"I exited the car and had completely lost awareness of the baby in the back seat," Diamond said. Had his wife not been in the car with him, the situation could have turned tragic, he testified.

Diamond, the second defense witness in the case, remained on the stand later Thursday morning.

Naramore, a Garland County circuit judge, faces the misdemeanor charge in the death of his 17-month-old son, Thomas, who died after being left in a hot car in July 2015.

The trial began Monday with jury selection and continued with the start of testimony Tuesday. The prosecution rested its case Wednesday.

— Jeannie Roberts


Sponsor Content

Archived Comments

  • SicNTired
    August 18, 2016 at 12:11 p.m.

    Of course it could happen to anyone... that doesn't give him a free pass. The facts remain: He was negligent and his child died because of that negligence.

  • MM03
    August 18, 2016 at 1:32 p.m.

    No, it could not happen to anyone. It could happen only to people like this guy. PERIOD. My God, is there an excuse for everything now?

  • susanshad
    August 18, 2016 at 2:33 p.m.

    The jury will decide the outcome. It is not our place to judge- we are not on the jury. We are not in the courtroom. I believe in our legal system. I pray for their wisdom. This is a lose-lose-lose situation. I hope the publicity this case gets saves a child.

    August 18, 2016 at 3:13 p.m.

    This Legal system of punishing people that are suffering because of their own Short Comings, Is a Flawed Justice System that does no good, It only Causes more pain and suffering, These types of Laws Need Changing, and they Need Changing now. There is no Justification to this added Pain and Suffering, I am hoping there will be some good to come from this trial,

  • tressiewilkinsyahoocom
    August 18, 2016 at 3:37 p.m.

    Regardless of him being a judge, grieving for the loss of his son, a law has been broken and someone needs to be held accountable. This is a very unfortunate situation. If it is me, I should be held accountable. There is no other way around it.

  • mrcharles
    August 18, 2016 at 4:01 p.m.

    Easy way to look at it, what if he did this to your child. Who suffers then? Is it ok to you? I would remind the excuse people to consider a child being roasted alive while his young mind does not know what is happening, think of the terror in those moments. I am sorry he and his wife is suffering, I really am, but he is not entitled to this being enough punishment. And we do judge every day-- not to pull out into a oncoming semi, to drive drunk, to do stupid things, so that is crap about judgment.

    This expert is a high paid idiot.

  • DontSweatIt
    August 18, 2016 at 4:11 p.m.

    Maybe this case will shed light on tragic accidents, such as this & shouldn't be considered a crime. An accident is not necessarily neglect - it depends on the intent. However, just because he's a judge doesn't excuse him from the law. I wonder how many people he sentenced for this very same accident? All the related cases need to be reviewed again!

  • Foghorn
    August 18, 2016 at 5:15 p.m.

    My head says: a child is dead, the father was negligent and should/must be held accountable. I find the excuses: sleep deprivation, distractions, routine to be irrelevant as well as repugnant. I'm guessing he had every other important appointment plugged into his phone calendar - as do most of us these days. Why didn't he have a reminder like "Drop Thomas Off" on his phone? He would have gotten a digital 'reminder' and maybe the child would be alive. Or a post-it note on the dashboard? Tragically, his son was an afterthought on that fateful day. On the other hand, my heart says: what difference will incarceration make?

  • cliffcarson
    August 18, 2016 at 5:31 p.m.

    Sixty percent of Hot Car baby deaths result in charges being brought against the person driving the car. There is a differential in courts being charged depending on the Court of Jurisdiction.
    In the late ’90s, states began introducing laws making it illegal to drive with young children in the front seat of a car because new front airbags were causing children harm. In 1998, 35 children died from injuries caused by front-seat airbags, which were designed to lessen the impact of crashes on adult bodies but proved dangerous for children.
    The remedy - placing baby seats in the back, facing to the rear, may have inadvertently caused Hot Car baby deaths to rise because they force children to be placed in the back seat, out of sight. There is a correlation between the rear-seat rule and the Hot Car deaths. It is much easier to forget about that out of sight child in the back. When you make a significant change in the way children are transported, there can be an unintended consequence.
    In the Narramore case the same court usually takes the driver straight to the police station which seems reasonable because a death has occurred. But this did not happen to Narramore. Which gives credence to the theory that the driver class makes a difference. Those average citizens don't get the benefit of the doubt that Judges, an above average citizen, gets.
    The result is unequal justice for an equal crime depending on who you are.

  • HM2
    August 18, 2016 at 7:33 p.m.

    The only thing he was upset or ( inconsolable ) about was the trouble he was in and the money he was going to have to pay his lawyers to get him out of the mess he was now in.