Md. Man Found Guilty of Manslaughter in Daughter’s Hot-Car Death

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News Baltimore Hot Car Death Wilbert Carter

A Baltimore father was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter by a jury Tuesday after leaving his daughter in a hot car for 16 hours last year after a drinking binge, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Wilbert Carter, 32, was denied bail and ordered held pending sentencing, which could land him more than 10 years in prison. Carter's defense attorney, Margaret Mead, pleaded with Circuit Judge Jeannie Hong to reconsider.

"It's the holidays!" Mead told the judge. "He has two other children!"

"There is a child that's dead," Hong countered.

Jurors came to their decision in less than a day, acquitting Carter of the more serious charges of second-degree depraved-heart murder and first-degree child abuse resulting in severe physical injury with death. Those charges carried possible sentences of 30 years and 40 years respectively, the Sun notes. Carter, however, was convicted of reckless endangerment and confining an unattended child.

Prosecutors say that Carter had been celebrating Father's Day and drinking with a relative June 21, 2015, before he returned home and parked the car, leaving his 2-1/2-year-old daughter, Leasia, in her car seat.

Carter passed out before eventually waking up on the front porch of a female friend who lived nearby. The 32-year-old then returned home and slept until 4 p.m. before little Leasia's body was discovered. According to the Sun, temperatures had reached 89 degrees that day.

Carter took responsibility for his daughter's death "from day one," Mead said, and was ready to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter. However, the case went to trial when the state refused to drop the first-degree child-abuse charge.

"I take responsibility for what happened to my daughter," Carter said while testifying Monday. He explained that he had never drunk gin before, but he and his brother-in-law had split a fifth of Tanqueray.

"It was a horrible mistake, and that's all I can say," he said, adding that he hasn't had a drink since Leasia's death. "Anything that can take my mind off of something so precious, I don't need it in my life."

Read more at the Baltimore Sun.

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