A Baltimore dad was convicted of involuntary manslaughter Wednesday in the death of his 2-year-old daughter, who was abandoned in a hot car while he got drunk on gin and passed out.
Wilbert Carter, 32, could face more than 10 years in prison for leaving the child alone in a locked Lincoln Town Car for 16 hours. Circuit Judge Jeannie Hong revoked Carter’s bail and ordered him behind bars pending his sentencing.
Defense attorney Margaret Mead became emotional and pleaded, “It’s the holidays! He has two other children!” The Baltimore Sun reported.
“There is a child that’s dead,” the judge replied.
After deliberating for less than a day, jurors acquitted the father of more serious charges of depraved murder and child abuse resulting in death.
He also was convicted of reckless endangerment and confining an unattended child.
Carter acknowledged responsibility for what happened to his daughter, saying he had been drinking gin with his brother-in-law on Father’s Day in 2015 while the toddler was with him.
“It was a horrible mistake, and that’s all I can say,” he testified Monday, the paper reported.
Carter drove home about midnight, and left Leasia strapped in the back seat while he went to a nearby female friend’s house, where he passed out on the porch.
“You thought you were going to get lucky, and that’s how you ended up on her porch,” Assistant State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess told him in court.
“No,” he replied.
Carter woke up in the morning, walked home and slept in the basement until 4 p.m., the prosecutor said.
When he got up, he realized something was wrong and went looking for Leasia, who was still in the back of his vehicle. The temperature was 89 degrees, authorities said.
Prosecutors played a 911 call in court, which carried multiple voices screaming and a woman telling the dispatcher, “A child was left in the car. She’s been there all day.”
When the operator asked for a description of the child, the caller replied, “I can’t look at her.”
A firefighter testified the girl had “massive” second- and third-degree burns across her body.
Relatives of Carter told the court he was a good father who didn’t drink heavily. He has two other daughters ages 15 and 11.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and I’ve never been in this type of situation,” he said on the stand.
He said he hasn’t had a drink since his daughter died.
The prosecutor asked the judge to revoke Carter’s $250,000 bail, citing a drug-related arrest in October. His attorney said he had a prescription for the narcotics he was carrying and that she was confident the charges would be dropped.
The judge sided with the prosecution and ordered Carter be sent immediately to jail.
“He’s a broken man,” his attorney said outside court. “How do you ever get over that? To keep him (in custody) at this time of year from his other children … you talk about rubbing salt in the wound,” Carter’s lawyer said outside court, according to The Sun.
His sentencing hearing has not been scheduled.