Arizona man sentenced to four years prison in baby's hot car death

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 20, 2014 6:54 PM

(Reuters) - An Arizona man whose baby died when he forgot the boy in a car on a hot summer day while he completed tasks at the pub where he worked was sentenced on Friday to four years in prison, an official said.

Daniel B. Gray, 32, left three-month-old Jamison in his Oldsmobile Alero last Aug. 28 and went into B.T. Sports Pub in Phoenix where he worked as a manager, entering the business on his off-day and at one point smoking marijuana in the parking lot near the vehicle, according to court papers.

When he went back to the car to retrieve some papers, he found his baby lifeless.

After rushing the boy into a cooler at the pub, he told police who arrived at the scene he had left the boy in the car for about three hours, court papers said.

Emergency responders measured the baby's temperature at nearly 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius), and the boy was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Under a deal with prosecutors, Gray pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and child abuse. He had faced up to six years behind bars, but prosecutors had asked for five years, said Jerry Cobb, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

Instead, a Maricopa County judge on Friday handed down a sentence of four years behind bars, Cobb said.

"Leaving a child in a car unattended at any time is an unacceptable risk, and especially during the summer months can be fatal and under certain circumstances can be criminal,” Cobb said.

The nonprofit group documented 44 heat stroke deaths of children in cars last year in the United States.

In Phoenix, one of the hottest places in the country, prosecutors were handling four cases on the dockets of adults leaving a child in a car on a hot day, including the case against Gray, Cobb said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Grant McCool)