STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- A day after being abruptly released from jail, a woman who allegedly allowed her children to become severely sunburned said Thursday she didn't do anything wrong.
Eve Hibbits, who had been jailed eight days, appeared on NBC's "Today" show one day after prosecutors dropped three felony counts, replacing them with a misdemeanor charge of child endangerment. Authorities said her three children were not as severely injured as officials had believed.
Hibbits was arrested Aug. 14, the day after a sheriff's deputy noticed her 2-year-old daughter, Rose, and 10-month-old twin boys, Thomas and Timmy, had sunburned faces at the Jefferson County Fair. Temperatures were in the 90s at the time.
Sheriff Fred Abdalla said the children did not have any sunscreen or shirts on when a deputy spotted them and took them to a first aid station. They were later treated at a hospital and released. He said their faces looked like they had been "dipped in red paint."
Hibbits, 31, told NBC she didn't think she had committed any crime, and being behind bars was awful.
"It felt like the walls of the jail were falling in on me. I ain't never been in jail," she said.
Her attorney, Shawn Blake, said the deputy had overreacted. "The paramedics said it wasn't necessary, the kids were fine but they could take them to the hospital anyway," he told NBC.
Hibbits was released on her own recognizance and pleaded innocent to the misdemeanor. She had been held on $15,000 bond.
Hospital officials initially said the children suffered from second-degree burns but later reduced that to first-degree burns, Jefferson County Prosecutor Brian Felmet said.
"I don't feel they (the charges) were too severe based on that information," he said. "With the benefit of hindsight with the information we have now, we feel they weren't warranted."
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