Dustin Lee Dennis pleads guilty to the hot car deaths of his two young children as the Tulsa, Oklahoma dad played video games and got high on coke.
As part of his plea agreement, Dustin Lee Dennis, 32, of Tulsa, admitted that he spent most of the night playing video games and getting high. The dad then fell asleep, leaving his 3-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter unattended. The children entered the garage, and got into his truck, he said.
‘The temperature was over 90 degrees and the children died from exposure to extremely high temperatures while being trapped in my truck for over four hours,’ the father wrote in a signed statement included in court documents.
The children were identified by prosecutors as Ryan and Tegan.
As part of the agreement, Dennis will be sentenced to between 3 and 6 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, according to the Department of Justice.
Failure to protect children from harm
‘Dustin Dennis was irresponsible and reckless,’ said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson of the Northern District of Oklahoma. ‘He prioritized using cocaine while his young children, Ryan and Tegan, were in his home and failed to protect them from harm. My office remains committed to prosecuting perpetrators of child neglect and abuse.’
Dennis had brought his children over to his brother’s residence on June 12, 2020, and returned home with the children just before 1 a.m. the following day, according to the timeline from Assistant U.S. Attorney Gina Gilmore.
Dennis pleaded guilty to two counts of child neglect in Indian Country.
‘He understands that he played a role in what happened, and he took responsibility for it,’ Dennis’s attorney Stephen W. Lee told Law&Crime.
Sentencing is scheduled for November 10, prosecutors said.
Within minutes of being left inside a hot car, a child can begin to suffer the life-threatening symptoms of heatstroke, according to kidsandcars.org. The inside of a vehicle acts like a greenhouse trapping in heat causing the temperature inside to rise very quickly..