A young mother accused of abandoning her 4-year-old son on the shoulder of the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County this past summer told police that she heard voices directing her to leave him there, according to court testimony yesterday.
Channoah A. Green, 23, of Newport News, Va., is accused of dropping off her son on the side of the Beltway near Route 50 on July 26 and bumping him with her car as she drove off. She then headed south on Interstate 95 and was involved in a two-car crash in Hanover County, police said.
A couple driving on the Beltway spotted the child, who was barefoot and wearing pajama bottoms and a T-shirt, and picked him up, police said. He had suffered some cuts and scrapes.
During a preliminary hearing in Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court yesterday, a Virginia State Police trooper, Donald Reed, who responded to the crash in Hanover County, said Green told him that she had instructed her son to walk toward some houses near the highway. Reed said she told him that she thought the boy was "protected" and would not be hurt.
According to Reed, Green said, "I listened and I did what I was told to do, to get rid of the unclean in the car."
He continued: "She said, 'I didn't want a car to hit him. We both did wrong and we were being punished.' "
Judge Michael J. Valentine found that there was enough evidence to send the case to a grand jury for a possible indictment on a charge of felony child neglect. Green's son remains in the custody of Fairfax County Child Protective Services, said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Marc J. Birnbaum.
William R. Edwards, the deputy public defender representing Green, said outside the courtroom that his client is a single mother who had lost her job when the company she worked for downsized. When the incident occurred, she was on her way home from seeing relatives in Pennsylvania, a visit that was tense, Edwards said.
"She was under tremendous mental stress and strain," Edwards said. "She was not in a position to make rational evaluations."
Kathleen Black, a driver on the Beltway that night, testified that she saw a woman and a boy standing near a car on the shoulder about 9:45 p.m. The woman was near the road, she said, and the boy was off in the weeds.
"The woman was making a motion with the back of her hands to get back," Black said, adding that she thought they had stopped for an emergency bathroom break.
Not long after, Gilbert Brown and his wife drove by, and she spotted the child. Brown testified that he pulled over and ran to the boy, who had a cut on his face.
"I scooped him up," Brown said. "He was pretty much hysterical, frantic."
As authorities in Fairfax tried to figure out what had happened to the child, Reed arrived at the crash on I-95 near Richmond. He said Green was sitting in her car, which had struck the guardrail, and was reading a Bible and listening to religious music.
Green didn't respond to rescuers who freed her from the vehicle and took her to a nearby hospital. Reed testified that he was concerned about Green's mental state and that when Green gave him her grandmother's name and number, he called to check on her medical history.
After Green's grandmother asked Reed whether the grandson was all right, he began to question Green about the child.
"I turned and asked her where the boy was, and she just looked at me," Reed testified. "I said, 'What did you do with your son?' She said she put him out the side of the interstate . . . where there were trees."
Birnbaum dropped a hit-and-run charge yesterday, saying he did not want the boy to have to testify at this stage of the court proceedings. After the hearing, he said prosecutors might seek an indictment later on a hit-and-run charge.