A woman charged with murder and felony child abuse in the death of her 9-month-old son recently received a lengthy prison sentence in Wilkes Superior Court after pleading guilty to second-degree murder as part of a plea agreement.
Kayla Rochelle Rodgers, 24, of Winston-Salem was sentenced to 216 to 272 months (18 to 22 ½ years) in prison on July 23 by Judge Michael Duncan of Wilkesboro, senior resident Superior Court judge for the 23rd Judicial District.
Duncan gave Rodgers credit for 446 days (14 ½ months) she was in custody after the Wilkes Sheriff’s Office arrested her on May 2, 2019.
Chief Deputy David Carson of the Wilkes Sheriff’s Office, now retired, said at the time of the incident that an investigation determined Rodgers knowingly left her child in an unattended parked car for five hours while she worked at the Eckerd Connects program on High Rock Road in Boomer on May 2, 2019. Highs were in the 80s that day.
Rodgers resigned from her job as a counselor/teacher there that evening, said an Eckerd Connects spokesman. She had worked in the program there since March 2019, the spokesman said.
Carson said that when Rodgers arrived at Wilkes Medical Center with the child on the afternoon of May 2, 2019, the child “was lifeless and not breathing.”
Deputy Landen Byrd of the sheriff’s office reported that he was in the hospital emergency department on an unrelated matter when he saw a woman, identified as Rodgers, bring a young child in at 4:20 p.m. that day. The woman with the child walked by Byrd and doctors soon said CPR was in progress on the child.
Byrd said that at about 4:45 p.m., doctors stated that the child had died. Byrd said he and the hospital security director entered Rodgers’ hospital room at 5 p.m., where she was holding the deceased infant. He said Rodgers stated that she brought the infant to the hospital after finding him unconscious and not breathing in a crib when she picked him up from a baby sitter at 4 p.m. that day.
William Thomas, a Wilkes medical examiner, examined the infant’s body at the hospital. An autopsy was conducted.