A Walker County grand jury has indicted a LaFayette woman on charges of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children in connection with the June 2020 death of her 22-month-old daughter.

Kyla Ann Padgett, 24, of 1615 Walnut Grove Road, has posted bond and has been released from jail following her indictment Feb. 25. She had been arrested in August 2020 for second-degree cruelty to children.

“This case is senseless and tragic and could have been prevented,” Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said, describing the death as “a case of neglect that resulted in an unintended death.”

Investigators believe the child tried to exit a vehicle through the rolled-down window and stepped on the window button, causing the window to close on her neck, Wilson said.

According to the case report:

A sheriff’s deputy was dispatched at 10:43 a.m. on June 5, 2020, to 55 Walnut Grove Road, LaFayette, in response to a report of an unconscious child whose neck had been caught between the car window and door frame of the rear driver’s side door.

Padgett and her boyfriend, Avery Jameson Walker of 1959 Peavine Road, Rock Spring, were performing CPR on Rileigh Faith Padgett when the deputy arrived and took over performing CPR.

The deputy noted the young girl’s body was cold to the touch, her lips had begun to turn purple, she had a drop of blood on her bottom lip, her hair was wet and she had bruises on her throat that appeared to have been caused by an object approximately 1/4 inch wide.

The couple said all three had camped down the road beside the creek the previous night, and they had all fallen asleep in a four-door 2000 Ford Taurus.

Padgett said when Walker woke her in a panic, the child’s head was outside of the vehicle while her body was inside, and the window was rolled up, pinching her neck and airway.

Padgett did not know how long her child had been unconscious.

At the camping location, officers found Walker’s discarded yellow shirt, a diaper similar to one the victim was wearing and two fishing poles. Fishing equipment was found in the vehicle. Walker was shirtless when deputies arrived.

Officers impounded the vehicle because it appeared to have spit-up on the rear driver’s window where the victim was found.

Walker faces no charges at this time, but he could be charged in the future, Wilson said.

Padgett has no other children, the sheriff said.

Catherine Edgemon is assistant editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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