Around 2:00 PM on Tuesday Davied Japez McCorry Whatley, a twenty-year-old man, showed up at the police station in order to pick up a firearm that had been confiscated in a previous case. When police ran a background check before releasing the firearm, they found that Whatley had an arrest warrant. Whatley was taken into custody at that time by police for a misdemeanor probation violation stemming from a hit and run crash without insurance and was booked into the Gwinnett County Jail. Meanwhile, his eight-month-old daughter, Nova Grace Whatley-Trejo, was inside his Mazda 3 which was parked away from the Snellville Police Department at the City Hall parking lot.
“I’m absolutely astounded that somebody would leave an 8-month-old in a car, park away from our building and walk up here knowing that child is in the car and leave them there, I’m astounded,” Detective Jeff Manley told the outlet.
Investigators said the girl was left in a vehicle by her father, Davied Japez McCorry Whatley, 20, who surrendered himself to Snellville police earlier that day for an unrelated probation violation. https://t.co/QOAG7i01Bv
— WILX News 10 (@wilxTV) May 4, 2022
At no time, from his arrest at 2:00 PM until bonding out, did Whatley mentioned his infant daughter inside of his car, police said in a statement. Police said the entire interaction from first contact in the lobby to when he arrived in jail, had been recorded on police body cameras. Whatley was bonded out of jail Tuesday night for the probation violation but was arrested Wednesday.
Temperatures in Atlanta’s metro area reached around 86 degrees Fahrenheit according to meteorologists. At approximately 9:30 P.M., Whatley eventually was able to call a friend who informed the grandmother about the girl in the car. He told the grandmother that he had told police about his daughter in the vehicle and those police thought he was lying. “We have him on video from the time he walked into this lobby to the time that we transported him to Gwinnett County Detention Center, released him to sheriff’s deputies there, he was on video the entire time, he never made a statement that child was in the car,” he added.
Little Nova was left inside left inside the car until around 9:30 PM when her grandmother found her and brought the baby to Piedmont Eastside medical center’s emergency room. At this time hospital staff had determined that Nova was dead and that she had been in the car for at least seven hours at the police station. The grandmother had told hospital staff the baby was left in the car after a traffic stop. After learning about the baby’s death police located Whatley’s car in the parking lot of the adjacent Snellville City Hall. Watley was charged with second degree murder and picked up after this.
Nova’smother, Selena, said her little girl lit up the room. “She had the biggest personality a baby could have. She laughed and smiled since she was a month old. She talked to you in her baby language and answered you with noises when you said her name,” Selena said.
The baby's father allegedly never mentioned he'd left his infant, Nova Grace Whatley-Trejo, in the car as he was being detained at the police station for an outstanding warrant. https://t.co/MSE1XpH0P5
— 12 News (@12News) May 5, 2022
Unfortunately, this is a heartbreaking reminder of what can happen to a child if they are left in a car during summer’s heat. It’s important for parents to check their vehicles before leaving and take any infants with them before they leave the car. Always check the back seat to make sure there aren’t any infants or dogs. The summer season is coming up and cracking a window is not enough to keep the temperature of a car safe. There are special car seats, reminders in newer cars, and alarms to remind parents to take their children out of the car before they leave. No child should die this way.