Woman Protests Her Innocence After Arrest in Dallas for Child Abandonment

Child abandonment is an emotive crime but it can also be a difficult offense to prove.

A case in point is the recent arrest of two mothers who were accused of leaving their young children in a hotel room while they went out drinking in bars in Northeast Dallas.

The Dallas Morning News reported police arrested two mothers on Tuesday after they allegedly left their young children in a hotel room while they went out drinking.

The police report said officers discovered a 30-year-old Lewisville woman asleep behind a dumpster around 4:45 a.m. Tuesday on Sandhurst Lane near Greenville Avenue. She was drunk and “could not stand or walk without assistance,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The woman, who was later identified as Jessica Haynes, told police she was concerned about her and her friend’s child. Haynes could not remember which hotel she and Leona Barrus, 30, had left them in, the warrant said. Both women were arrested.

In a more recent report Barrus claimed she never left the hotel room. She claimed she paid Haynes to keep the woman’s 5-year-old daughter. She said Haynes was staying in a hotel with her son for spring break.

“I just got in trouble for this drunk girl,” Barrus said. “The police listened to this person and arrested me.”

The Dallas Morning News reported police were able to track Barrus’ cellphone to a Holiday Inn Express in the 6000 block of North Central Expressway, where Barrus was found with the two children, according to police records.

Haynes has been charged with child abandonment with intent to return. She remains in the Dallas County jail in lieu of $100,000. Barrus was charged with the same offense.

Under the Texas Penal Code, a person commits an offense if, “having custody, care, or control of a child younger than 15 years, he intentionally abandons the child in any place under circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm.”

There are defenses to the offense if the child is delivered to a designated infant care provider. An experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney can help you fight a charge of child abandonment.

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.