- Associated Press - Saturday, March 4, 2017

JENNINGS, La. (AP) - A 29-year-old woman is in custody a month after her 4-year-old niece was critically burned while in her care.

Brant Thompson, the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s chief deputy, said Saturday that Gail Marie Brown was arrested late Friday on five charges including negligent injuring, obstruction of justice and prostitution. She’s being held at the Jeff Davis Parish jail. Bond has not yet been set. It was unknown if Brown has an attorney.

Thompson said Brown lied about how the child was burned.

She initially told investigators a young boy at a park in Jennings, about 95 miles west of Baton Rouge, ignited the child’s clothing Jan. 22 when in fact the girl and her cousin, Brown’s 6-year-old daughter, were left alone in a vehicle and the older child used a lighter to set the younger girl’s clothes on fire.

The child remains hospitalized at a pediatric burn unit in Galveston, Texas.

“This woman was more concerned about her own well-being, and/or avoiding the consequences of her criminal behavior, than that of her seriously injured 4-year-old niece,” Thompson said. “It is shocking that one would be so callous and exhibit such a lack of regard for the well-being of a child, particularly that of her own niece. Only by the grace of God did this child survive this horrific ordeal.”

Further, Thompson said, Brown showed no remorse for her alleged actions at the time of her arrest.

“This was an egregious act,” he said. “She misled our investigators and the community by fabricating this story. I commend our investigators and those with the Jennings Police Department for staying the course and for their unwavering commitment in seeking justice for this young child, as this woman will now be held accountable for her actions.”

Thompson said no charges will be brought against the 6-year-old who is believed to have started the fire.


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