FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - A Fulton County mother is now charged with the murder of her 3-year-old son after he was left in a vehicle on Halloween.
Lillian Stone, 25, was initially charged with cruelty to children last week after she called 911 and said her little boy, 3-year-old Melvin Smith, was unresponsive in her car outside her home on Smoke Ridge Drive in South Fulton County.
"You got the media saying one thing we trying to be out here being her voice out here ‘cuz she's here. She's never been in trouble a day in her life. I mean she got a heart of gold," said family member Vankeisha Stone.
Police said Stone went into the home earlier in the day on October 31 and after several hours went outside to check on her son and found him unconscious in the car. Paramedics rushed the little boy in critical condition to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding. Authorities said he was suffering from heat-related issues.
The 3-year-old child later passed away and that's when Stone was charged with murder. She's scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning.
"I broke the news to her Saturday night. It hurt me to tell her but I rather tell her before anyone else tell her," said Stone’s mother, Pamela Stone.
Stone's mother said she was dealt a double blow with the loss of her grandson and her daughter now facing murder charges.
"My prayer goes out to my daughter and I hope my prayer go out to this judge she did not mean to harm that baby," said Pamela Stone.
The family has hired a private attorney and been told not to discuss details of the events surrounding Melvin's death, but they dispute the police account of what happened, insisting Stone is a great mom who would never intentionally harm her child.
"Who in their right mind would leave a kid in their car in their driveway? And the news is saying somebody else found him. No they didn't she found her own son," said Vankeisha Stone.
The family shared videos of the 3-year-old child in happier times on Wednesday outside the Fulton County Jail where her mother was still being held.
Last week, friends of Stone called her a "great mother" and told FOX 5 they think the child's death was a horrible mistake.
“Everybody knows that’s she’s a great person, a good person,” said a woman who identified herself as Stone’s best friend. “My best friend is a very great mother a great mom to her kids she loves her kids. It was a mistake it was really truly a mistake.”
Stone’s supporters wouldn't discuss what happened but insist she is a good mother who would never intentionally harm her kids.
Stone's neighbors said they always see children playing outside, and are surprised a tragedy like this could happen.
"There's a lot of adults over there. It's kinda puzzling everyone forgot the child," neighbor Loretta Milton said.