A South Carolina father is being accused by police of letting his 1-year-old daughter burn to death inside the back of his flaming vehicle while trying to flee officers on foot after a highway chase.
Imhotep Osiris Norman, 26, of Spartanburg, is now facing a homicide by child abuse charge stemming from the incidents alleged to have unfolded Friday. If convicted on the felony charge, he could be sentenced anywhere from 20 years to life in prison, The State newspaper reports.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol says officers first attempted to pull over Norman at around 10 p.m. in Greenville County after he was clocked doing 67 mph in a 45 mph zone. When Norman reportedly failed to stop, they gave chase and noticed that smoke and sparks were coming from his vehicle while it was barreling along Interstate-85.
The car eventually caught fire and Norman abandoned it, taking off on foot, according to Fox Carolina.
The station reported firefighters who arrived on-scene shortly afterward extinguished the blaze and found the body of a toddler in the car’s back seat. Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger identified the victim as Xena Rah'Lah Norman, the suspect’s 1-year-old daughter.
Norman later was tracked down and arrested by police, and a bag that he allegedly threw out of his car’s window during the pursuit was found to contain illegal drugs, Fox Carolina reported.
During a court hearing Saturday, in which Norman was denied bond, he claimed his car was out of control and that it “wasn’t on fire” when he got out of it.
“It was going by itself,” Norman told a judge. “I couldn’t hit the gas or the brakes or anything anymore. When I hit the brakes in it, I just kept going the same amount of speed."
“I just know that the car wasn’t on fire when I got out the car,” he added, also saying “if I couldn’t get my daughter out of that car I wouldn’t have got out."