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CRIME Mother pleads innocent to child endangering charges



Published: Tue, June 14, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The woman caused a scene inside the store, police said.

YOUNGSTOWN -- A Canfield woman who police said left two children in a hot van while she shopped at Giant Eagle in Cornersburg has pleaded innocent to child endangering.

Melanie L. Cooper, 41, of Indian Run Road was arraigned Monday in municipal court after posting a book bond on four charges Sunday evening. The bonds total $9,000, with 10 percent allowed to be paid.

Cooper faces two counts of child endangering and one count each of resisting arrest and obstructing official business. She returns to court July 28 for a pretrial.

Police who arrived at the store Sunday evening learned that two boys, 9 and 17 months, had been taken inside the store by employees. A man who had observed the children in the van for about 10 minutes first notified the employees then called police, who took about eight minutes to arrive.

Unsafe heat

Police said the van engine was not running and two windows were down. At the time, the temperature was in the 80s and very humid, police said.

The employees who removed the children from the van also took an open can of beer, reports show. Cooper was not charged with having an open container because it had been removed from the van, police said.

Inside the store, Cooper was highly irate, causing a disturbance and making a scene, police said. Officers said she was yelling at the store employees, which caused the children to scream and cry.

Police said Cooper also yelled at them and swore in front of the kids and customers and, once outside continued to yell and refused to follow instructions.

Grocery shopping

She told police that she had just gone to buy milk but the officers said her buggy was half filled.

Cooper began to walk away from police and took a swing at one while holding onto the youngest child, reports show. While being handcuffed, Cooper took several kicks at the officers restraining her and kicked the cruiser cage once inside the car, reports show.

Police called the two older boys' father and the younger child's grandfather. The children were turned over to the adults.

Youngstown attorney Martin E. Yavorcik, standing in for Don L. Hanni, said after court Monday that Cooper had taken a 7-year-old boy into the store and left the 9-year-old boy in the car to watch the 17-month-old boy. Yavorcik said the woman tried to retrieve the two children from the store because they were crying.




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