PHOENIX (AP) — A father wept at a court hearing after police say he left his toddler son in a hot car during a day of heavy drinking and the boy later died.
James Koryor, 41, was taken into custody on suspicion of manslaughter and child abuse Tuesday after he went to a liquor store with his 2-year-old, bought a bottle of gin, drank it on the way home and fell asleep inside his house, detectives say.
The toddler was left behind in the car, and detectives found signs the child had struggled to get out of the vehicle before dying. Temperatures in the Phoenix area topped 90 degrees Tuesday.
A judge set Koryor’s bond at $50,000 and assigned the case to the public defender’s office. The office says Koryor does not have an attorney on his case yet and likely won’t until just before an April 28 court hearing.
A sobbing Koryor told the judge Tuesday that he didn’t have money to post bond. He struggled to keep his composure, and at one point the judge offered him a box of tissues as he sobbed.
Prosecutors argued for higher bail, saying Koryor is a U.S. citizen but has extensive ties to Liberia, Ivory Coast and Ghana and could flee. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not immediately respond to inquiries about whether Koryor is a naturalized citizen.
The judge also stressed that Koryor cannot consume any alcohol if he posts bond.
“That means you cannot have any alcohol inside any residence that you stay,” the judge said. “None. It has to be immediately removed. All of this is to ensure the safety of your family and of the community, and, frankly, I’d like to ensure that you are protected from yourself.”
The victim was identified as Alpha Koryor. His 5-year-old brother either got out of the vehicle by himself or was taken inside by his father, police Sgt. Trent Crump said Tuesday.
Family members asked where his little brother was, and he said the child was asleep, Crump said.
“I think the assumption on their part was that he was probably in the house and he had gone to take a nap,” the sergeant said.
The boy’s mother found Alpha unconscious in the backseat of the car a couple of hours later, Crump said. The boy was taken to a hospital and died.
A court document said Koryor told police that the boy’s mother was with him when he bought the alcohol, which isn’t what she told officers. There was nothing to support Koryor’s account, Crump said Wednesday.
The boy’s death is a reminder to parents that they need a plan in place to ensure children are not left unattended, police said.