Judge dismisses one charge against Anniston mother who forgot infant in vehicle

The Anniston woman whose infant died after being left in a vehicle only faces one criminal charge after a judge dismissed one felony count against her Wednesday.

Katherine Papke is still charged with manslaughter after the death of her four-month-old son, Bennett Owen "Bo" Smith.{} Prosecutors initially charged her with leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, but Papke's attorney said the new law which went into effect August 1 applies to workers being paid to provide care for children, the elderly, or the disabled.

Jim Sturdivant filed a motion on behalf of Papke to have that charge thrown out, and the judge dismissed the felony charge.{} Investigators will present the case to a grand jury to determine if Papke will be indicted on the manslaughter charge.

Papke is in her 15th year of service in the Army, and holds the rank of Sergeant First Class.{} She recently returned finished maternity leave and returned to work at the Fort McClellan Readiness Center.

Sturdivant said Papke drove her elementary school-aged daughters to school Friday--for the first time this semester--and forgot to take her infant son to daycare on her way to work at the Readiness Center.{} She called 911 after finding Bo was still in his car seat around 2 p.m.

Papke's attorney said he does not think manslaughter is an appropriate charge.

"She made a horrible mistake and she will live with it for the rest of her life. {}She's totally devastated and she's doing all she can just to make the arrangements for the child's funeral," Sturdivant said.