Gwinnett County

Father charged with 2nd degree murder after baby left in hot car, police say

SNELLVILLE, Ga. — An 8-month-old is dead and her father has been charged with murder, but the family and police have much different versions of what happened.

Snellville police say her father left her in the backseat of his car.

Channel 2′s Audrey Washington spoke with the family on Wednesday who said police took the father into custody all while his daughter slept in the back of his car.

Officers say the father parked several feet away in that city hall parking lot. It was sunny and in the 80s on Tuesday and the little baby was inside that car for hours.

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“This situation didn’t have to happen,” the child’s grandmother, Leticia Padilla said.

Padilla says she knew her granddaughter Nova Whatley Trejo was dead when she found the baby in the back seat of her son’s car.

“She was in the parking lot, right where he said,” Padilla said.

According to Snellville police, Davied Whatley, 20, arrived at the police department Tuesday afternoon with his daughter Nova sleeping in his car.


He was at the department to pick up his belongings that were seized in a previous case.

While inside the department, police arrested Whatley on an unrelated misdemeanor probation violation.

“He made no statements as to the fact that his daughter was left in the car,” police said Wednesday.

But Whatley’s family says the father begged police to check on his daughter.

“All they had to do was listen. They thought he was lying,” Padilla said.

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Padilla said police assured her son that someone would get Nova. She tells Washington that at around 9:30 p.m. her son eventually got to call a friend. That friend called Padilla.

Padilla said she then rushed to the parking lot and found Nova dead in the back seat. Whatley is now charged with second degree murder.

“He told them. He loved his daughter,” Padilla said.

Snellville police say body camera video will prove that Whatley never mentioned his daughter.

Washington has obtained all of that video and is going through it. So far she has not heard Whatley saying anything about his daughter being in the back of the car. Again, Washington is still going through all of the video.

Padilla said she just doesn’t believe the police.

“They can say whatever they want to. They have to cover their tracks,” Padilla said.