A Buford woman who was arrested in Covington last year for leaving her 5-year-old son in her vehicle received judge-ordered full custody of him after apparently proving she overcame her drug addiction, leaving the child's father unhappy and ready to appeal.
Mary Amber Moore, now 33, left her son, Liam, now 6, in the car at Covington's Kmart on July 29, 2013 covered in a towel, according to previous reports. Concerned residents saw the boy sitting inside the car with all the windows rolled up, crying and sweating. The car was parked in direct sunlight in approximately 89-degree weather.
Moore was arrested and taken to Newton Medical Center after attempting to swallow pills the Covington Police Department found in a pill bottle in her car, apparently because she didn't want to get charged with having pills in the wrong bottle.
At the time, Moore was charged with contributing to the deprivation of a minor, obstruction of an officer and tampering with evidence.
Dustin Prentice, Liam's father, said he plans to appeal the judge's decision to award Moore full custody, stating there was a mistrial and the various advocates for the case recommended custody be given to the father and his wife, Amanda.
"We would have thought, surely, given everyone's recommendations, the child would remain in my and my wife's home," Prentice said.
Neither parent - they divorced in 2011 - has a clean record, with Prentice being previously charged with attempted bank robbery and failure to pay child support and Moore with shoplifting and theft.
"I am personally disturbed by what happened throughout this case and especially with the court's ruling is a vast understatement," said Prentice's attorney, Douglas Fox, in an emailed response. "I am having great difficulty in trying to reconcile the outcome of this case with my general belief that our legal system works and works well when lawyers simply care and remain diligent."
"Liam has changed my life," said Prentice's wife, Amanda, whom he has a 13-year-old son with. "He is an incredible little boy. He's been through so much that no child should ever have to go through. I love him like he is mine. I know he is not mine. I'm not in denial or anything like that. I know who his mother is. I have always encouraged their relationship."
Moore said she has learned from her arrest last year and is ready to do whatever it takes to protect her son from now on.
"That arrest turned my whole life around," Moore said. "Me losing my son, I don't think you can even describe that in words. And then he went to a dad who was never around in the first place. After all that, it worked out and he's back home."
She said she needed something to hit her across the face and shake her back to reality because "I was in the depths of drug addiction."
Moore completed a 28-day in-patient program at Gran Recovery Center in Covington before completing an 18-week out-patient program, including going to meetings and passing drug tests. She said she volunteered a hair follicle and has not failed a drug test since last year.
"I accept full responsibility for what I put my son through," Moore said. "I'm ready to get to being the person I should have been his whole life."