Judge arrested in hot car death of son

Judge Wade Naramore. (Photo: Garland County Sheriff's Office; Video: KATV)

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KATV) - An arrest warrant was issued Thursday morning for Judge Wade Naramore in connection with the heat-related death of his toddler son, Thomas, who died after he was left in a vehicle in July 2015.

KATV has confirmed Naramore turned himself in and was brought to the Garland County Detention Center by the Hot Springs Police Deparment at 11:33 a.m. Thursday. Naramore was booked on one count of negligent homicide, a Class A misdemeanor. He was released at 11:41 a.m. after posting $5,000 bond.

Naramore is scheduled to appear in court February 23. If convicted, he faces up to a year in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Special Prosecutor Scott Ellington commented on the charge, saying negligent homicide is what the facts fit and was the offense the state could charge.

When asked about why it took so long to charge Naramore, Ellington said, "We've made the right charge under the circumstances. The time frame it took to make that charge, people can speculate, but we do what we think is the right thing to do at the right time."

Ellington said the case was not delayed because of Naramore's position as Garland County circuit judge.

Ellington also acknowledged the emotional aspect of the case, saying, "I would be cold-blooded if I couldn't say that the circumstances are just--they're tragic. They're tragic for the child, they're tragic for the family, they're tragic for the community. I have a heart that beats just like everybody else."

Naramore's attorney, Patrick Benca, tells KATV he has no comment at this time.

According to the affidavit, Naramore told police on July 24, 2015, he and his 18-month-old son Thomas were in the car and said their morning prayers. Naramore stopped at McDonald's for breakfast, which was out of the ordinary because he usually ate breakfast at home. He said he also had a court case he was worried about. He then proceeded to work.

Naramore says he got off work early that day and ran some errands then went home. That afternoon, he was leaving his residence to go pick up Thomas from daycare. He said when he turned a corner, he heard a noise in the rear of his car that made him turn around. When he did, he noticed Thomas was still in his car seat. Naramore said he immediately stopped the car, got Thomas out of his car seat, and called for help.

Hot Springs Police Dispatch received the 911 call from Wade Naramore at approximately 3:10 p.m. Naramore requested help at the corner of James Street and Fair Oaks Place, stating, "My son was left in the car and I think, I think he's dead."

According to the arrest affidavit, Naramore told police Thomas was left in the car for approximately five hours. The indictment states Naramore said numerous times, "I killed my baby!"

Thomas' core temperature was 107 degrees, according to the Garland County Coroner. The toddler was pronounced dead at the scene.

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