Oklahoma father pleads guilty to neglect in children’s hot car deaths

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TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma father has pleaded guilty to charges of neglect in connection to the deaths of his children.

According to a criminal complaint, Dustin Lee Dennis fell asleep on June 13, 2020 and woke up several hours later to find his children dead in the backseat of his pickup truck.

A neighbor’s surveillance system allegedly showed Dennis leaving his home alone at around 12 p.m. for 11 minutes to head to a QuikTrip. When he returned home, he said he fell asleep.

During that time, surveillance cameras captured the children trying to get into his truck at 1:22 p.m. when the vehicle’s alarm went off.

Seven minutes later, they successfully got into the truck.

Dennis was then seen leaving his apartment and looking for the children around 5:32 p.m., which is when he made the tragic discovery.

Mugshot of Dustin Dennis
Dustin Lee Dennis

Dennis was charged in Tulsa County with two counts of second-degree murder.

However, those charges were dismissed due to a lack of jurisdiction following a ruling by the United States Supreme Court.

On July 9, the Supreme Court ruled that much of eastern Oklahoma, including a large chunk of Tulsa, is still tribal land.

The children, who were 3-years-old and 4-years-old, were members of the Cherokee Nation.

As a result, the case was handed over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“Following the Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt, the Tulsa County District Attorney dismissed state charges against Dustin Dennis for lack of jurisdiction. District Attorney Kunzweiler communicated to my office his intent to do so, and we immediately prepared to receive and review the case file. Upon review of the facts and evidence by the FBI and federal prosecutors, we filed a Complaint alleging felony child neglect by Mr. Dennis. Our review of the facts and evidence is ongoing, and we will determine whether other violations of federal law should be presented to a federal grand jury for their consideration.

This is a tragic set of facts. Our mission now is to pursue justice for the two child victims by holding Mr. Dennis accountable in a court of law. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has a team of Victim Coordinators who will work with the mother of the deceased children as this case proceeds through the federal system.”

U.S. ATTORNEY TRENT SHORES

Dennis was then charged with felony child neglect for the children’s deaths.

Court documents show that Dennis pleaded guilty to the charges and agreed to a sentence between 36 and 72 months in prison, followed by supervised release.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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