Tehachapi mother accused of abandoning toddler in vacant lot appears in front of judge

MOJAVE, Calif. - The woman accused of abandoning a toddler in a vacant lot appeared in front of a judge Wednesday. 

Stacey Nikkel, 34, is accused of leaving her two-year-old daughter in a lot off of Sage Avenue and Cherry Lane in Tehachapi. 

After 10 hours of being abandoned, Sheriff's deputies said two women found the toddler unharmed in a stroller that had been tipped over. 

23ABC spoke to family members of Nikkel who said this incident should have never happened. 

According to the family, the toddler had not been under the guardianship of her mother for nearly two years because of drug charges and spousal abuse charges against the toddler's father.

From February until the custody hearing on June 9, the toddler was under the guardianship of a couple looking for permanent custody. 

During that hearing the judge awarded custody back to Nikkel and five days later the toddler was found in the field. 

According to the family, the toddler is back under the guardianship of the foster couple.

Nikkel pleaded not-guilty to child endangerment and drug charges. She's scheduled to be back in court June 27 at 9 a.m.

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