WILKES-BARRE — A woman who left her 3-year-old daughter inside a Walmart Supercenter and crashed her car into a parked vehicle was sentenced Wednesday to at least two months in jail.
The sentence imposed by in Luzerne County Judge Fred Pierantoni III appeared to come at a complete surprise for Lisa Lee, 29, of East Stroudsburg, and formerly of Orchard Street, Nanticoke, who protested loudly and was shackled inside the courtroom by sheriff deputies.
Lee thought she was going to be sentenced to probation on a child endangerment charge.
“I’m going to jail?” a confused Lee responded. “Sir, please, I’m begging you. I’m going to get kicked out of my methadone program.”
Wilkes-Barre Township police charged Lee on Dec. 21, 2012, after she caused a disturbance at the cash registers with her daughter and 1-year-old son. She left the store only to return leaving her two children with a Salvation Army bell ringer when she went inside to speak with the store’s manager about missing a box of diapers.
Lee and the manager went to Lee’s car where she placed her two children in the front seat and searched for the receipt of items she purchased. The manager offered to buy Lee a car seat for the children. Lee handed her daughter to a store clerk, saying, “I’ll be back later,” before driving away and colliding with a parked vehicle, the complaint says.
Lee returned to the store about 45 minutes later and demanded someone to go get her child, according to the complaint.
Police said in the complaint that Lee struggled with officers when she was arrested.
At Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, Lee told the judge she has attended drug-and-alcohol counseling and has been cleared by Children and Youth Services in Luzerne and Monroe to visit her children.
“We’re starting all over again,” Lee said. “The state has given me a second chance to be with my children.”
Lee believed Pierantoni was going to grant a request for probation. The judge instead imposed a sentence of two to 23 months for endangering the welfare of children followed by one-year probation for accidents involving damage to an attended vehicle. The judge also ordered Lee to complete 15 hours of community service and attend parenting classes.
“Children are not pawns,” Pierantoni told Lee before she was escorted away by sheriff deputies.