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Father pleads guilty to neglect in death of children in hot truck

PHOTO: Dustin Lee Dennis
Posted at 2:43 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 16:10:59-04

A Tulsa man pleaded guilty to two counts of child neglect in Indian Country after he left his two children unsupervised for more than four hours and they got into his truck and died due to extreme heat exposure.

Dustin Lee Dennis, 32, fell asleep on June 13, 2020, and woke up and found his two children deceased in the backseat of his pick-up truck.

As part of the plea agreement, Dennis agreed to a sentence between 36 and 72 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. The final sentence will be set at a hearing set for Nov. 10, 2021.

“Dustin Dennis was irresponsible and reckless. He prioritized using cocaine while his young children, Ryan and Tegan, were in his home and failed to protect them from harm,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “My office remains committed to prosecuting perpetrators of child neglect and abuse.”

In his plea agreement, Dennis admitted while caring for his children on June 12-13, 2020, he got high on cocaine and stayed up playing video games. He fell asleep on June 13, leaving his two children unsupervised. The children entered Dennis’s truck in the driveway, couldn’t get out, and later died from exposure to extremely high temperatures while being trapped in the truck.

Three-year-old Ryan and four-year-old Tegan were citizens of the Cherokee Nation. The crime occurred within the boundaries of the Muscogee Nation reservation.

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