McKINNEY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – After a little more than four hours of deliberations, a Collin County jury found Michael Thedford guilty of criminally negligent homicide and abandoning or endangering a child in the death of his 6-month-old baby.
Jurors then sentenced him to five years probation. His attorney said they will appeal.
Thedford’s attorney J. Joseph Mongaras said in a statement, “This is not the outcome we hoped for, but we respect the jury’s decisions. This remains a sad situation for everyone involved. We know this was a tragic accident that could have happened to anyone and we plan on appealing.”
The judge called Thedford’s flat affect and behavior throughout the trial – in which he kept falling asleep – “horrifically disturbing.”
Thedford told investigators he dropped off his 3 and 5-year-old children at a daycare center, while his wife was at work. He said he went home and went to sleep, forgetting his 6-month-old daughter was still strapped in car seat inside the minivan.
Thedford said when he went outside and found the baby not moving, he immediately took her indoors and put her in the refrigerator, with the door open. He then called his wife and 911, and attempted CPR.
When paramedics got to the home outside Melissa, deputies say the child was still unresponsive. Temperatures were in the mid 90’s by that afternoon.
From across the street, a neighbor watched in horror as the adults discovered the child. Fabiola Contreras said Thedford and the child’s mother were in tears and that the events are just hard to believe. “Forgetting a child? His child? It’s hard to believe, because how can you forget a child in your own car? It’s your child.”
Thedford was a teacher in Celina ISD for the 2015-2016 school year — teaching physics and chemistry.