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NJ Couple Admit Leaving 3 Kids in Cold Car While Gambling

August 19, 2016



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Megan Stricker, 215.348.6576, mkstricker@buckscounty.org

A New Jersey couple pleaded guilty this morning to leaving three small children alone in a cold vehicle while they gambled at Parx Casino in January.

The children, ages 8, 3 and 18 months, were not harmed in the Jan. 2 incident, despite being left unattended in 31-degree weather for more than an hour and a half outside the Bensalem casino.

Their parents, Jarrett Nelson, 40, and Ebony Walker, 31, both of Newark, pleaded guilty in Bucks County Common Pleas Court to misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.

Nelson, who spent two months in prison after his arrest, was sentenced to time served followed by 34 months of probation, while Walker received 36 months of probation from Judge Rea B. Boylan.

New Jersey child welfare officials have placed children into the custody of Walker's mother since the incident, although both parents are allowed visitation rights.

Walker told Boylan that she was struggling for money, had recently been robbed and was desperate to pay her rent at the time. She and Nelson, who was unemployed, said they won more than $700 playing the slots at Parx, which they put toward their rent.

Both admitted that leaving the children alone was wrong and dangerous, although Walker said she was in constant contact with the 8-year-old child via cell phone.

“It happened, and it’s the worst mistake I ever made,” Walker said. “I made the money I needed, but I got incarcerated.”

"No excuse at all,” concurred Nelson. “It will never happen again, because I love my kids so much.”

After being arrested, Walker, who suffers from bipolar disorder, said she placed herself into an intensive counseling program in New Jersey that she still attends. Nelson said the couple hopes to marry after they recover financially and regain custody of the children.

Boylan noted that the cold weather was not the only danger the children faced by being left alone in a casino parking lot. Surveillance video showed that the couple had entered the casino at 7:33 p.m. and did not return until 9:11 p.m.

“What if someone had come along” and had tried to abduct the children, the judge said to the defendants. “There’s so many things that could have happened to your children, not just being cold and scared.”

Approved for release by Jennifer Schorn, Deputy District Attorney.

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