TULSA – An Oklahoma man was sentenced Monday to four years after his two children died from extreme heat exposure.
U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan sentenced Dustin Lee Dennis, 33, of Tulsa. The four-year federal sentence is followed by five years of supervised release.
Dennis fell asleep in his pick-up truck on June 13, 2020. He woke up and discovered the children, ages 3 and 4, deceased in the vehicle’s back seat.
The two children were left unsupervised for more than four hours, at which time they gained access to Dennis’ parked vehicle, said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson in a prepared statement.
Dennis pleaded guilty on July 13 to two counts of child neglect in Indian Country. The victims were citizens of the Cherokee Nation, and the crime occurred within the boundaries of the Muscogee Nation Reservation.
In his plea agreement, Dennis admitted that while caring for his children on June 12 and 13, 2020, he got high on cocaine and stayed up playing video games.
Surveillance footage showed the two children trying to get into Dennis’ truck at 1:22 pm when the vehicle’s alarm went off. They attempted a second time at 1:29 pm and successfully gained access to the truck. The video later captured Dennis exiting his apartment and searching for his children approximately four hours later, at 5:32 pm. Within minutes he discovered the children deceased in the truck.
Dennis and his brother, Michael Dennis, discussed purchasing and using cocaine days before the death of the children. Michael Dennis pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance on July 29 and was sentenced Monday to 18 months of probation.