BILLINGS, Mont. - A Glendive woman was sentenced Monday after her young son died in a hot car in 2018.

Ashley Howard was charged with negligent homicide in the death of her 2-year-old son in 2018 and has now been sentenced to 20 years in the Montana State Women's Prison in Billings.

Howard originally pleaded not guilty in September of 2018.

Court documents state her toddler died of a heat stroke after being left in a car for nearly eight hours. During that time, the documents say Howard was at a party and later overslept while her son was in the car.

The child was pronounced dead two days later after being taken off life support.

Prosecutors argued Howard never took responsibility for her actions and painted herself as the victim.

She was allowed to give a statement in court this morning.

"I struggle with saying that I killed my son. Because nobody wants to be the reason their son is no longer here. I miss him every day. I know that I will always love my son and I will always miss him," Howard said.

The judge ordered the Department of Corrections to provide mental health services during Howard's time served.

The grandmother of the victim, Marsha Hopkins, also gave a statement during the hearing.

"You will have to live with the fact that you alone killed Caleb. Do I think that you meant to? No. Do I think that you could have prevented it, absolutely. You knew what could have happened if you left him in the car, and you made that choice," Hopkins said.

Howard's sentence comes with 5 years suspended, and parole is restricted for the first 10 years.

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