Here’s what is not in dispute. 40 year old Lazaro Ramos thought he had taken his 6-month-old to day care. Tragically, instead, he left her strapped in the child seat of his car, in sweltering Miami heat. After spending a long day at his office, he returned to his vehicle to see the gruesome discovery. His baby daughter died of heat stroke.
He was arrested and charged with Manslaughter. Miami-Dade prosecutors were very comfortable with their case. They believed that Ramos’ conduct was reckless. They maintained that he was distracted by work calls on the way to his office.
The defense argued that this was a tragic accident. They further told Circuit Judge Cristina Miranda that Mr. Ramos’ actions were merely negligent, at worst, failing to hit the legal requirement of “reckless.”
Judge Miranda ruled this week that Ramos’ conduct was not “reckless, gross or flagrant” enough to justify a criminal charge. Prosecutors vowed to appeal the ruling.
This case raises the issue of what to do with these types of tragic cases. Unfortunately, we see them frequently in South Florida. Some ague that it’s punishment enough that for the rest of their lives, a parent will be forced to live with the reality that they caused their child’s death. Others maintain that punishment must include probation and/or even jail or prison time to send a message.
In this case, I commend Judge Miranda for her courageous ruling. I agree that Ramos’ conduct was negligent, but not reckless. Additionally, Ramos, by all accounts was a loving and devoted father. He had another child, five years old, who he also loves and cares for immensely. What he did represents an isolated incident in otherwise exemplary life. I’m comfortable with giving him a pass on criminal prosecution. The pain that he will have to endure for the rest of his life knowing that his actions killed his daughter is sufficient punishment in my opinion.