Fla. dad charged with murder in daughter's hot car death

Charges against Steven Lillie were upgraded to third-degree murder in the June death of his infant daughter, left in a hot car for more than four hours.

By Gabrielle Levy

ROCKLEDGE, Fla., Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A Florida man whose infant daughter died after he left her for hours in his pickup truck has been formally charged with third-degree murder.

Charges against Steven D. Lillie, 31, were upgraded Friday to include the murder charge, as well as a felony voluntary manslaughter and felony injuring a child under the age of 6 by leaving them in a vehicle without supervision, prosecutors said.


Lillie was not arrested until four days after the death of 9-month-old Anna Marie Lillie in June. Authorities say he was supposed to drop her off at her grandmother's home before heading to work. It was only when he got a call from relatives, at least four hours after leaving her in the car, that he discovered her body, still strapped into the carseat in his truck.

In a 911 call, a distraught Lillie told the dispatcher he "absolutely forgot about her."

A third-degree murder charge in Florida does not require intent to do harm and carries a maximum sentence of 15 years. It does, however, require the death to have come during another felony action, in Lillie's case, prosecutors say that was causing grave injury to the child left in the car.


The manslaughter charge, meanwhile, only requires the state to prove the unintentional homicide was due to a reckless action, and also carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.

If convicted of all three charges, Lillie would face up to 20 years.

"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," said Jennifer Mostert, an attorney for Lillie. "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, however, said the accidental nature should not excuse the death of a child.

"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."

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