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Baby dies after man goes to police station to get gun back, leaves child in hot car, officials say

Instead of giving him the firearm, Snellville, Georgia, police arrested Davied Whatley on a probation violation. He did not tell police that his daughter was in the car, officials said.
Image: Nova Grace Whatley Trejo.
Nova Grace Whatley-Trejo.Family photo / via WXIA

A Georgia father was charged with second-degree murder in the death of his 8-month-old daughter after the baby was left in a hot car while he was being arrested at a police station.

Authorities believe the baby, Nova Grace Whatley-Trejo, was in the car for hours on Tuesday. The girl's grandmother found the baby in the car and took her to the hospital sometime before 10 p.m., Snellville Police Detective Jeff Manley said at a news conference Wednesday.

Manley said the girl's father, Davied Whatley, 20, arrived at the Snellville Police Department around 2 p.m. Tuesday to retrieve a firearm that was seized in an unrelated incident.

He said unbeknownst to police, Whatley had left his daughter in a car parked two buildings away at the City Hall.

Firearms are not returned until police conduct a background check to make sure the person is not a convicted felon, Manley said at the news conference. During the check, officers learned Whatley had a warrant for probation violation and arrested him at the station.

Manley said Whatley was on video from the time he arrived at the police station to the moment he was transported and released to deputies at the Gwinnett County Detention Center. Whatley made no reference to Snellville police that his daughter was in the car, Manley said.

"He made no statements as to the fact that his daughter was left in the car two buildings away from the Snellville Police Department," he told reporters.

Manley said the baby was found after the grandmother "was alerted" by Whatley. He said the baby was dead by the time the grandmother found her.

He did not provide details about how or when Whatley was able to contact the grandmother. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures reached a high of 86 degrees Tuesday afternoon in Atlanta, located about 30 miles northeast of Snellville.

"I’m absolutely astounded that somebody would leave an 8-month-old in a car and park away from our building and walk up here knowing that child was in the car and leave them there. It’s astounding,” Manley said.

Whatley bonded out of jail Tuesday night on the warrant charge but was re-arrested Wednesday on a charge of second-degree murder, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. It's not clear if he has obtained an attorney.