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Daiquan Fields, 32, pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony child abuse and neglect in the death of the 2-year-old.
Court documents suggested a change in Fields' routine dropping off the 2-year-old and her siblings may have contributed to her death.
An investigator wrote that Fields saw the toddler in the back seat after he returned to the car.
A Northern Virginia man has pleaded guilty to leaving his girlfriend's toddler in a hot car, leading to her death.
Daiquan Fields, 32, pleaded guilty Sept. 20 to charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony child abuse and neglect, News4 has learned.
Fields was arrested in April after he drove to Pentagon City to pick up his girlfriend at work and discovered he'd left the two-year-old girl in the vehicle earlier that morning.
He called 911, but emergency crews could not revive the little girl.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, all but six months of the five-year prison term was suspended, allowing Fields to go free Sept. 27.
Now on supervised probation, Fields is barred from living with the victim's mother, must find full-time work and must stay away from drugs and alcohol. In addition, he was ordered to complete a parenting class, pay court costs and get a mental health evaluation. He is not permitted to drive.
Court documents suggested a change in his routine dropping off the 2-year-old and her older siblings may have contributed to the tragedy.
Fields said in an interview with police that he normally dropped off the toddler with a babysitter and then took the two older children, ages 10 and 15, to school. But on April 20, they were running late dropping off the oldest child, so Fields dropped off that child first, followed by the middle child, he told police. Fields then returned to the family's apartment in Annandale, leaving the 2-year-old strapped in her car seat.
A change in routine can contribute to a child being left in a car, Don Goddard of the Fairfax County Police Department said in the wake of the little girl's death.
"When people get into routines like this, they become accustomed to doing things in an order," he said. "If that routine or habit changes, sometimes it leads to a tragedy."
Fields told police he was home in Annandale, Virginia, all day, even meeting a housing inspector who stopped by. He drank a beer and watched TV before he left late in the afternoon to pick up the children's mother from her job at the mall in Pentagon City, he told police.
An investigator wrote that when Fields pulled up at the mall and sent a text message to his girlfriend, he saw the toddler in the back seat. The child appeared blue, and fluid was dripping from her nose, he told police. He called 911 and told the dispatcher he was trying to perform CPR. The toddler was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The temperature that day was about 70 degrees, but the toddler had a body temperature of 107 degrees when she was rushed to a hospital, a search warrant said.