The father of a 4-year-old who died after he was left alone for hours in a hot SUV with the window cracked while the man worked an event in St. Paul was given jail time and probation after the child's mother asked for leniency.
Ramsey County Judge Robert Awsumb sentenced 26-year-old Kristopher Taylor of Apple Valley to jail time and 10 years of probation. He will serve a total of six months in jail and six months on electronic monitoring with an allowance for work and counseling release.
Taylor was charged with second-degree manslaughter in the May 4 death of his son Riley Taylor. He pleaded guilty to the charge in August, and in exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed that Taylor would serve six months to a year in jail or the county workhouse, be on probation for 10 years and undergo a parenting evaluation.
Taylor, while working at Minnesota Monthly's eighth annual GrillFest at CHS Field, had parked his SUV at the ballpark of the St. Paul Saints in a spot that was "entirely exposed" to the elements, according to the criminal complaint.
Taylor said he last checked on Riley about 11:30 a.m. Saturday and returned about 5:15 p.m. after work to find the boy unresponsive. He took the boy to St. Paul's Regions Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The temperature over the time period ranged from 70 degrees under partly cloudy skies around noon to 64 and mostly cloudy conditions at 5 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office ruled preliminarily that Riley died from hyperthermia.
In a statement to the court, Riley's mother, Jalie Juers, described Kristopher Taylor as a loving father who was devoted to his son.
"Every bit of me knows what happened wasn't intentional, and that the loss of our precious boy will hurt for eternity," she wrote. "I know in my heart that the love they shared for each other is strong and if he could go back in time he would."
Juers, who moved to Michigan after her son's death, said she and Taylor remain in contact as he keeps her updated on the case, and he has apologized repeatedly. While she acknowledged "it's not something that can go without punishment," sparing him prison is appropriate.
"He never intended for things to go the way they did," she wrote. "He thought he would be able to work and get off and spend time with our son. Not that the very action would be the reason why we won't ever see him again."
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768