BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A Rockledge father accused of leaving his 9-month-old daughter alone in a hot vehicle for hours has been charged with third-degree murder, officials said on Friday.
Steven Lillie, 31, was initially arrested in June on charges of aggravated manslaughter in the death of Anna Marie Lillie, but the charges were changed to third-degree murder.
"These are lesser levels than the aggravated manslaughter," said assistant state attorney Julia Lynch.
The father told WFTV during an interview that leaving his daughter in a hot truck outside his office was an accident.
By the time he realized where she was, it was too late -- the baby had died.
"I am going to miss her for the rest of my life, and there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her," Lillie told Channel 9.
"It's an unintended homicide," said Lynch. "We realize he didn't set out to hurt or harm his child."
Witnesses told Channel 9 the child's father was supposed to drop his daughter off at day care but apparently forgot.
Police said Lillie found his daughter in the truck nearly five hours later. The man's coworkers heard him screaming and called 911.
"The child was unresponsive when the officers arrived. They took as many life-saving measures as they could. Ambulance and rescue did the same, but the child did not survive," said Lt. Donna Seyferth with the Rockledge Police Department.
"We had a tragedy happen in this case. We're charging a tragedy. It's very sad but at the same time there's a statute that's right on point," said Lynch.
If the case went to trial and Lillie were convicted of third-degree murder, the minimum prison time he would face without a downward departure is about 10 and half years.