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Men Charged for Leaving Kids in Car

April 29, 1998

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Two men charged in the deaths of two little girls who were left strapped to car seats in a blazing hot vehicle are not murderers, their lawyers said.

Ricky Leon Crisp, 23, and Justin Avery Griffith, 27, were charged with first-degree murder for allegedly leaving the girls in the car while they went off to hunt for arrowheads and mushrooms.

Sydney Pippin, who was 4 months old, and a cousin, Vicky Fraley, 16 months, died from heat exhaustion and dehydration during the eight hours they were left in the car Saturday, authorities said.

Crisp is Vicky’s father.

Crisp’s lawyer, Charles Duell, said charging his client with first-degree murder required a ``leap of faith″ by the prosecutor.

Terry Harper, who represents Griffith, said his client was in no way obligated to the children.

``It is extremely rash for the prosecutor to place any allegation Mr. Griffith was under any duty to watch these children,″ Harper said. ``He was just a passenger in the vehicle.″

The girls were left in a 1990 Geo Storm on a dirt road near Little Flock in northwestern Arkansas. Investigators said the car’s temperature may have reached 140 degrees.

``We will have sufficient evidence to show they rolled up the windows and locked the doors,″ prosecutor Brad Butler said. ``That they know such conduct is certain to cause death.″

Crisp was released early Tuesday on bond. Griffith remained Tuesday in the Benton County jail in lieu of $35,000 bond.

The two girls had been with Crisp since Friday night, after the mothers had been unable to find child care. The two women had gone to work Saturday morning.

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