A Baltimore jury on Tuesday convicted a man of “involuntary manslaughter” after it was established that he was solely responsible for the death of his daughter, who was locked inside a hot car. According to The Baltimore Sun, the 32-year-old man identified as Wilbert Carter left his 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter inside a hot car for more than 16 hours, eventually resulting in the child’s death. According to the report, the incident happened on June 21, 2015. Ironically, Carter was celebrating Father’s Day with a relative on the day he left his daughter, Leasia, inside the car.
According to court documents, on the day of the incident, Wilbert Carter was celebrating Father’s Day with his brother in law. After a long drinking session, he returned to his home in Northeast Baltimore in his car with Leasia inside. After parking his car, an intoxicated Carter did not bother to take his daughter out. He locked the vehicle from outside and a few minutes later, passed out on the front porch of a female friend who lived nearby. Carter woke up a few hours later without realizing that his daughter was inside the car. He then returned to his home on foot and only got up by 4 p.m. that day. By the time he realized what had happened, his little daughter had passed away. Temperatures had reached nearly 90 degrees on the day of the incident.
Following deliberations, the court found Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter, reckless manslaughter and confining an unattended child. He was, however, acquitted of more serious charges that included second-degree depraved-heart murder and first-degree child abuse resulting in severe physical injury with death. Both these charges would have led to sentences of 30 and 40 years, respectively. With the current charges, however, Wilbert could be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison.
Police arrested and charged Wilbert Carter with murder and child abuse in the death of his 2 y/o daughter Leasia. pic.twitter.com/Rr1IKFBtpO— Paul Gessler (@PaulGessler) June 23, 2015
On the day of his sentencing, Carter’s defense attorney Margaret Mead appealed to circuit Judge Heannie Hong to consider a bail plea for him. Hong claimed that that Carter had two other children, aged 15 and 11, and they would like to spend some time with their father.
“It’s the holidays! He has two other children!” Mead told the judge.
“There is a child that’s dead,” Hong responded.
Carter’s conviction came after jurors deliberated for less than a day. He might have received a lighter sentence after the court established that he had accepted responsibility for the death of his daughter right from day one. Even on Monday, when Wilbert testified, he said; “I take responsibility for what happened to my daughter. It was a horrible mistake, and that’s all I can say.”
Wilbert also told the jury that he had drank gin on the day of the incident – something which he had never done before – until the day of the incident when he and his brother in law split a fifth of Tanqueray.
Meanwhile, Anne Colt Leitess, the Assistant State’s Attorney and also the chief of the state attorney’s Special Victims Unit, alleged that Carter had “knowingly” left his daughter inside the car, and he was out seeking a late night rendezvous with the female friend on whose porch where he had passed out. She also added that the fact that he passed out does not in any way mitigate his culpability.
“You thought you were going to get lucky, and that’s how you ended up on her porch,” Leitess said.
“No,” Carter replied.
Several of Carter’s relatives who were inside the court on Monday testified in favor of him. Many described Wilbert as a doting father to all his kids. They claimed that he was never a heavy drinker. Wilbert also testified that he has never had alcohol since Leasia’s death.
“Anything that can take my mind off of something so precious, I don’t need it in my life,” he testified.
Five of Carter’s relatives, including two women with whom he has other children, testified Monday that Carter was a doting father and not a heavy drinker. His oldest daughter is 15, and another child is 11 years old.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and I’ve never been in this type of situation,” he said.
Following the conviction, State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby issued a statement saying how this case is a reminder to parents.
“Nothing can erase the fact that this innocent child’s death was a direct result of her father’s recklessness. However, as we currently experience frigid temperatures, I hope that today’s conviction will remind parents and guardians of the dangers of leaving unattended children in vehicles in extreme weather conditions.”
This is not the first time we have heard of horrible hot car deaths. Earlier this year, we had also reported about the case of Justin Ross Harris, the Georgia man who left his two-year-old son in a hot car. Ross was sentenced to life in prison.
In yet another case of a baby dying inside a hot car, a man identified as Lance Williams Sr. was also recently arrested by the Des Moines Police Department. According to police officials, Lance Williamns left his infant son inside his car in sweltering heat as he visited a barber shop.
Several witnesses say that the child remained inside the hot car for an extended period of time. By the time someone noticed the child, it was too late. Williams was subsequently arrested and now faces several charges of child endangerment resulting in death, police said.
[Featured Image by Baltimore Police Department/AP Images]