Image: Treffly Coyne
AP
Treffly Coyne, of Tinley Park, Ill., 36, was charged with misdemeanor child endangerment and obstruction of justice charges, but charges were dropped.
updated 3/13/2008 2:35:33 PM ET 2008-03-13T18:35:33

Charges will be dropped against a woman who briefly left her 2-year-old daughter alone in the car to take her two older daughters to pour coins into a Salvation Army kettle, prosecutors said Thursday.

The woman, Treffly Coyne, was charged with misdemeanor child endangerment and obstructing a peace officer after a Crestwood police officer spotted her sleeping daughter alone in the vehicle Dec. 8. The mother claimed she was close by at all times and was gone for just minutes.

Coyne’s trial was supposed to begin Thursday, but prosecutors could not meet the burden of proof and decided to drop the charges, Cook County State’s Attorney spokesman John Gorman said.

Her husband reacted with relief and anger. If convicted, his wife faced up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

“We shouldn’t have had to fight this long and this hard when my wife never did anything wrong,” said Timothy Janecyk. The planned dismissal of the charges “only shows they tore my family apart for no reason.”

Coyne, who was arrested in a loading zone near the entrance of a Wal-Mart store, contended 2-year-old Phoebe, who was sleeping, was safe inside the car after she locked it, activated the alarm system and turned on the emergency flashers.

She said she was never more than 30 feet from the vehicle, did not step inside the store and was gone for only minutes. And her attorney said because the car was always in sight, Coyne’s daughter never was unattended.

Crestwood Police Chief Timothy Sulikowski said he disagreed with prosecutors’ decision.

“We stand by the actions of our officers that night and they were looking out for the best interests of the child,” he said.

Sulikowski said that while police were obligated to report the case to the state’s child welfare agency, Coyne would not have been arrested had she cooperated and not refused to give them basic information, including the child’s name.

“By not providing us with that information and the information of her child, at that point we don’t know that that child is hers. We don’t know if that child has been listed as a kidnapped child or a missing child,” he said. “Absolutely, she forced this.”

Coyne has acknowledged that she did not tell the officers her child’s name after she called her husband on her cell phone and he told her not to say anything until he arrived. She said she was afraid and only wanted to wait for her husband, but police arrested her before he did.

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