ST. PAUL — The young father wept as he described to a judge what it feels like to live with the death of his 4-year-old son, knowing he caused it.
“No one can hate me more than I hate myself … I think about it everyday,” Kristopher Taylor said. “Every time I breathe. Every time I wake up … Yes, I think about him … Yes, I dream about him.”
The 26-year-old spoke during his sentencing hearing Friday, Oct. 11, on one count of second-degree manslaughter in the death of his little boy, who Taylor left inside a car for six hours parked in full sunlight outside CHS Field this past May as he worked a shift for a vendor.
He picked the boy up that morning because his mother had to work, thinking he’d be able to find him alternative childcare.
When he couldn’t, he decided to bring him along for his own work shift, cracking the window as he left the child inside his car with a game.
The temperature rose to above 70 degrees that day — May 4 — meaning the temperature in the car likely reached more than 100 degrees.
After discovering his child lifeless in the vehicle and rushing him to the hospital, Taylor fully cooperated with the authorities, his defense attorney, Edith Brown, told the court.
Medical staff pronounced the boy dead from probable hyperthermia.
Taylor even welcomed the notion of prison, Brown continued, adding that he wanted to do whatever he could to take responsibility for his actions.
But both sides agreed after Taylor entered a guilty plea in his case that prison wasn’t appropriate for him. Taylor doesn’t have a criminal record.
With that in mind, it was known heading into Friday’s hearing that Taylor would receive a stayed sentence for his conviction and instead be placed on probation for 10 years.
The only question was whether he would be ordered to serve either six months or a year in jail as well.
Ramsey County District Judge Robert Awsumb sentenced him to a year, but said half of it could be served on electronic home monitoring.
Before rendering his decision, Awsumb noted the number of letters he received in support of Taylor, including one from the child’s mother.
“It’s obvious that you have always been a person that cares about others,” Awsumb told Taylor. “It’s ironic that what brings you here today is an act of neglect … That’s not who you are.”
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Kelly Meehan read the letter the boy’s mom submitted, which described how she met Taylor in 2012, and how he quickly became her “rock” through “hard times.”
The two started a relationship and went on to have their son, prompting Taylor to drop out of college so he could work to support them.
Eventually, the couple decided they were better co-parents than romantic partners, but Taylor remained a committed, involved and loving father through the transition, wrote Jalie LeeAnne Juers.
“I know from the bottom of my heart that they loved each other, and I always felt like I could trust him. He would help without question if I needed the help, and he always had our back,” Juers wrote. “Every bit of me knows what happened wasn’t intentional, and that the loss of our precious boy will hurt for eternity.”
Awsumb also granted Brown’s request to stay the imposition of Taylor’s conviction, meaning the felony will become a misdemeanor if he successfully completes his 10-year probation period.
That means the once aspiring attorney might still have a shot at the career, Brown said.
He’ll begin serving his jail time later this month.