PHOENIX – An Arizona man was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for leaving his infant son unattended inside a hot car for several hours without air conditioning last summer.
Daniel Bryant Gray, 32, cried as he pleaded for a lenient sentence in the death of 3-month-old Jamison Gray and apologized to the child's mother for his actions.
Gray left the boy in the car Aug. 28 after parking outside the Scottsdale sports bar where he worked as a manager. He smoked marijuana during part of the time he was gone, authorities said.
Gray pleaded guilty in May to manslaughter and child abuse.
He had faced a possible prison sentence ranging from four to 16 years, though his plea agreement limited his sentence to no more than six years. The prosecutor asked for a five-year term, while Gray's lawyer requested a three-year sentence.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dawn Bergin said Gray was remorseful for leaving the child in the car, but noted the difficult impact that the death will have on the child's mother and her family. "This is a tough case," Bergin said.
She said she didn't think Gray's marijuana use had any impact on him forgetting the child in the car, adding that Gray took quick action once he remembered the child was there and wasn't normally the person who transported the child around.
Still, the judge noted that Gray had prior felony convictions and past difficulties with substance abuse.
The child's mother was in court for the sentencing, but she declined to make any comments to the judge.
Gray asked for the shortest possible prison sentence, saying his surviving 8-year-old son needs his father around.
"I don't know what happened that day," Gray said. "I don't know why it happened. I don't know how it happened. I love my son."
Gray inadvertently left the infant inside his car when he stopped off at the bar on his day off to perform duties that couldn't wait until his next shift, authorities said.
He left the baby in the sedan for about three hours. During that time, Gray completed his duties, helped kitchen staff with food preparation and smoked marijuana with an employee, investigators said.
Gray asked the employee for pot, and the two went outside and used the drug near Gray's car, police said.
Gray later discovered the baby when he returned to his car to get paperwork. He ran back inside with the child, who was still in his car seat, and brought him into a cooler.
Gray tried fanning his son, whose core temperature was determined to have reached 107 degrees.
The temperature outside was about 100 degrees at the time, but interior car temperatures frequently are much higher.
Employees and emergency workers tried CPR on the infant, but he was later pronounced dead.
Investigators described Gray as distraught and emotional throughout his police interview.