Father Faces Manslaughter Charges In Death Of 4 Month Old Daughter

A day after a Lindale baby was  found dead in her father's truck, her father faces manslaughter charges.  Kerrigan Petty's father, Kevin Petty voluntarily surrendered to authorities this afternoon. He was charged in a private arragnment at the Smith County courthouse.   The baby was discovered yesterday inside his truck, parked on a Lindale street.

"He had two kids and was a devote Christian and a very devoted husband and father," says Chief Dan Somes with Lindale Police Department.

Chief Somes has known Kevin Petty for 7 years.  Petty works full time at Goodyear Tires. He has been a reserve sergeant at Lindale Police Department for 8 years.

"He was an outstanding guy he would do anything for you.  He did a great job as an officer and was promoted to the sergeant in the reserves and ran the reserve department," says Chief Somes.

According to Judge James Cowart, Petty was attending a educational seminar for the police department in Canton Yesterday.

"He came to the office in his personnel vehicle and left in a patrol car around 7 o'clock or prior to 7 o'clock in the morning and then went to the school in Canton," says Judge Cowart.

His 4 month old baby girl Kerrigan Petty was still in the truck. After the seminar, Petty drove back to Lindale and it wasn't until 3:20 in the afternoon... More than 8 hours later; when reality set in.

"He was remembering the events of the day, the way I understand it, and thinking well I've got to stop and pick up my child from daycare and then it dawned on him.  That's when he didn't remember dropping off his child at the daycare," says Judge Cowart.

At that point, Judge Cowart says Petty called dispatch and asked for officers to meet him at his truck.

"Three officers that met him at the truck or got there about the same time he got there. And he (Petty) opened the truck at that point," says Judge Cowart.

Kerrigan was already dead.  According to Petty's attorney, he and his wife alternated taking kerrigan to a sitter's house.

"It wasn't out of the ordinary that he was taking one of the children to childcare. Getting through the day was a little different than the normal daily routine," says Brett Harrison, Kevin Petty's Attorney.

Today, Petty voluntarily surrendered. The manslaughter charge is a second degree felony.

Many who know Petty best, are in disbelief...

"You leave your thoughts and prayer with the family and support them the best you can. You prayer the Lord helps them through this," says Chief Somes.

Petty's bail was set at $25,000 and he has bonded out.

An autopsy has been ordered, and is being performed at Southeast Forensics in Tyler.

Karolyn Davis, reporting.  kdavis@kltv.com