Mother will face trial after her infant died in a hot car at a Knoxville grocery store

A Knoxville mother charged in the August hot car death of her 6-month-old son will face trial next summer.

Chantae Monique Cabrera, 30, appeared at an arraignment Wednesday on charges including first-degree murder, felony murder and aggravated child neglect.

Judge Scott Green set the case for trial on July 27. A plea deadline also was set for Feb. 28.

Cabrera, who has remained free on $250,000 bond since her arrest last month, was appointed a public defense attorney.

Emergency personnel responded Aug. 9 to the parking lot outside Food City, 5078 Clinton Highway, to find the baby boy, identified as Jovany Isaiah Morales, dead in the backseat of his mother’s car, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed by Knoxville Police Department investigators.

Cabrera, who also is identified as Chantae Monique Armstrong in court records, told police “It’s my fault! I forgot to drop my baby off at daycare,” the warrant states.

She said she thought she had dropped off the child at daycare that morning after taking her daughter to Pleasant Ridge Elementary School, and before she went to her job at the Skin Wellness Center in West Knox County.

The child was left unattended inside the car for approximately eight hours, according to the timeline of events the mother recounted to authorities.

The autopsy report lists the infant’s cause of death as hyperthermia, an abnormally high body temperature.

Ambient temperatures hovered around 93 degrees most of the day, the autopsy report notes.

Cabrera left work that afternoon and picked up her daughter from school. She planned to make a stop at the grocery and then head back to the daycare on nearby Merchant Drive.

She was making a grocery list outside the Food City when her daughter asked, “What is that?” and Cabrera looked in the backseat to realize the baby was still there, the search warrant states. Cabrera then called 911.