Father of baby who died in hot car facing manslaughter, child abuse charges

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by Andrew Michalscheck and Catherine Holland

Video report by Jill Galus

Posted on August 29, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 30 at 5:21 PM

PHOENIX -- The father whose infant child died after being left in a hot car is now facing charges connected with his son’s death.

Phoenix police said Thursday night that Daniel Bryant Gray, 31, has been charged with manslaughter and child abuse, both of which are felonies.

Police said they believe that Gray was smoking marijuana while his 3-month-old son, Jamison Gray, was sitting in the car.

Gray left his son in the vehicle on Wednesday afternoon while visiting a sports bar where he works as a kitchen manager. Court paperwork states that Gray's car had been parked outside the bar for about three hours.

While Gray reportedly told officers he stopped at the bar at about 10:30 a.m., an employee told investigators that Gray arrived earlier than that.

According to a witness, Gray and a new employee went outside at about 10:45 a.m. Court paperwork states that the employee saw the pair standing in front of Gray's car.

"He assumed by their actions they were smoking marijuana," the probable cause statement reads.

Detectives talked to that new employee.

"He admitted that Daniel asked him for marijuana, so the two went out back and stood in front of Daniel's car ...," according to court paperwork. "The new employee never noticed the baby in the car...."

Detectives talked to Gray about this after his arrest.

"Daniel did not want to tell Detectives about what happened between him and the new employee behind the restaurant on 8-28-13 because he was concerned with the perception of him and the new employee standing next to the car, where his 3 month old baby was ultimately found."

The temperature in Phoenix at that time was around 100 degrees, which means the temperature inside the car was much higher. According to court paperwork, doctors said Jamison's core temperature was 107 degrees.

"In the past, we have brought charges against parents when we were able to determine based upon the evidence that there was either an intentional or a knowing conduct that placed a child at risk of serious physical injury or death," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said.

"During the time that he was supposed to be attentive and watching the child, he was, the state believes, smoking marijuana," Deputy Maricopa County Attorney George Kelemen Jr.  said during Gray's initial appearance Friday morning. "The evidence will support that fact he was smoking marijuana."

According to national statistics, Jamison is the 30th child to die in a hot car this year.

This is not the first time Gray has found himself going before a judge. While discussing Gray's bond, Kelemen mentioned that Gray had been convicted on felony counts in the past.

"Within the last 10 years, he's had five felony convictions. Four of them have been for substance abuse related to the personal use of marijuana," he said. "The fifth was also substance abuse even though it wasn't marijuana. It was a DUI."

A records search of the Arizona Department of Corrections shows that Gray served several months on an aggravated DUI charge from April 2010. He was admitted to prison in August 2011 and released on parole at the end of February 2012.

"The state believes that the tragedy that occurred Wednesday was not simply an unavoidable mistake ...," Kelemen said, requesting a bond of no less than $100,000.

The judge agreed, setting a $100,000 secured bond for Gray, If he posts bond, Gray will be required to wear an electronic monitoring device.

The judge also appoint a public defender for Gray and scheduled a status conference for Sept. 5, followed by a preliminary hearing on Sept. 9.

"Do I get to say anything?" Gray asked near the end of the proceeding.

The judge advised him to wait until he talked to his attorney.

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