Steven Darnell Lillie, a 31-year-old father from Florida, left his infant baby daughter in the back of his truck for at least four hours. The tot died and police have since arrested Lillie and charged the “forgetful” father with third-degree felony murder, manslaughter and leaving a child under the age of six unsupervised in a motor vehicle.
Reports Florida Today: “The Rockledge man who left his infant daughter strapped into a car seat in a sweltering pickup truck in June was officially charged… The charges indicate the state is ramping up its prosecution of Lillie, who wasn't arrested until four days after the incident… Lillie had told police the death of his 9-month-old was the result of a terrible mistake on his part and that he never intended to leave her in his truck.”
According to investigators, Lillie, who was supposed to drop his daughter off at a grandparent’s home, came out to his vehicle at his place of work, realized that his daughter was in the truck, and screamed, prompting coworkers to call 911. Police arrived to find Lillie distraught and sobbing.
Lillie's attorney, Jennifer Mostert, issued a statement and spoke of the state’s charges, which Mostert called “excessive.”
“Mr. Lillie and his family are disappointed that the State has elected to file formal charges against him for the accidental death of his daughter Anna on June 16th, 2014,” Mostert wrote. “This family has suffered an inconceivable loss, compounded by his almost immediate arrest and now by the filing of formal charges.”
Assistant state attorney Julia Lynch, the lead prosecutor against Lillie, says that while the state and she personally recognizes the tragedy, she has an “obligation to enforce child-protection statutes and defend the most vulnerable of its citizens, including Lillie's daughter Anna.”
"We recognize that we are charging someone for a tragedy here, but if a person causes a tragedy and this leads to the unlawful taking of a life, then they have to take responsibility for it," she said. "The laws are there to protect children, and we're enforcing them."
Lillie’s case highlights a summer filled with hot-car tragedies: