Texas man was sentenced this week after he was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide for the death of his young daughter.
According to the Dallas Morning News, 35-year-old Michael Thedford left the baby in a hot vehicle for several hours, leading to the 6-month-old girl’s death of heat stroke more than two years ago.
He allegedly put the young victim’s body in a freezer after the incident, leading to a charge of tampering with evidence. A jury found him not guilty on that count.
Thedford reportedly told authorities that the infant had an ear infection on the day she died and he forgot she was still in the family’s minivan after he dropped his older children at daycare.
After returning home and taking a nap, he said he discovered Fern in the rear of the vehicle at least four hours later on a day with temperatures in the mid-90s.
Defense attorney Joey Mongaras called the Fern’s death a “tragic accident, not a crime,” but a jury disagreed.
The homicide charge for which he was convicted carries a recommended jail sentence of two years.
Collin County jury of 8 men & 4 women has been deliberating for a little more than an hour so far. Michael Thedford is charged with criminally negligent homicide, tampering with evidence & abandoning or endangering a child after 6-month-old Fern died in hot car #thedfordtrial pic.twitter.com/fv4EAakpvt
— Valerie Wigglesworth (@vlwigg) July 20, 2018
A judge, however, probated that sentence for five years while imposing some specific terms.
In addition to 120 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine, Thedford will be required to dedicated two hours of volunteer service on his daughter’s birthday.
Remarking on the case after sentencing, County Court at Law Judge Barnett Walker described the crime and evidence presented at trial as “deeply disturbing.”
He did not hold back in expressing his disgust in the courtroom, calling it “horrifically disturbing” that Thedford showed little emotion during the trial.
District Attorney Greg Willis issued a statement celebrating the conviction while expressing sorrow for the tragic circumstances of Fern’s death.
“Our hearts are broken for the loss of baby Fern,” he said. “I’m so proud of our prosecution team for securing justice in this tragic case.”
[Featured image: Michael Thedford and Fern, Collin County Sheriff’s Office and family]