RELEASE GRANTED TO MOTHER WHO LOCKED BOY IN TRUNK
(09-14-2004) - A mother accused of locking her 7-year-old son in the trunk of her car so she could celebrate her birthday in an Ocean Beach bar must be released from jail pending trial, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Superior Court Judge Browder Willis said Sara Marie Powell, 27, can be freed without having to post bail as long as she has a permanent address and enrolls in a substance abuse recovery program the Juvenile Court runs.
Friends of Powell and her boyfriend, Jake Faria, were in court to offer the defendants a place to stay. Powell had been held on $150,000 bail since her arrest in the early hours of Aug. 23 outside Winston's Beach Club in Ocean Beach.
Powell and Faria are charged with seven felony counts of child abuse and false imprisonment, prosecutor Jeffrey Dort said.
Some of the charges arise from the couple driving the car on at least three occasions with the 7-year-old locked in the trunk, he said.
Powell and Faria also are charged with two misdemeanor counts for allegedly smoking marijuana in front of the child and giving him alcohol, Dort said.
But Deputy Alternate Public Defender Mary Ellen Attridge successfully argued that Powell is not a danger to the community and is eager to get back to work at a local coffee cart.
Powell has a Juvenile Court hearing tomorrow in which she plans to enroll in the 12-to-18-month substance abuse recovery program and begin the process of getting her family back together, Attridge said.
The attorney told the judge that while Powell's alleged criminal actions could be considered "poor judgment," her son is in good health and is well cared for.
The judge modified a "no contact" order to allow Powell to visit her son at Polinsky Children's Center as long as she is supervised. Faria's bail was reduced from $150,000 to $25,000.
Willis said he viewed Faria differently since he is not the child's biological father.
Defense attorney Kay Sunday told the judge that Faria, 30, loves the child and wants the family reunited.
"He considers this child his child," Sunday told the judge.
Faria was arrested Aug. 27 when he returned to San Diego from San Bernardino and tried to visit the boy.
The couple had been together four years and were taking turns home schooling the child, Sunday said earlier.
Powell was arrested after San Diego police got an anonymous tip that her child was locked in the trunk of her gray 1985 Volvo. The car was parked outside the bar.
Officers knocked on the trunk but got no response, Dort said earlier. A dog was in the car's passenger compartment.
Police went into the bar and an announcement was made for Powell to go to her car outside. She responded and the boy was freed, authorities said. A sleeping bag, pillow and car battery were in the trunk, Dort said.
The child, who had been there about four hours, acted as though he had been coached not to make any noises and not to tell anyone what had happened, police said.
The boy told police he had been placed in the trunk about 10 times before, Dort told reporters after Powell's arraignment.
Powell told police she couldn't find a babysitter and wanted to celebrate her birthday, the prosecutor said.
The defendants will be back in court Sept. 28 for a readiness conference. A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 19.
My faith in the human raise has been wavering for years..........................How can someone do this to a child? Am I just clueless? Jeezus some people need killin'