Rock Springs Man Will Serve Prison Time for Involuntary Manslaughter after Son’s Overdose

Rock Springs Man Will Serve Prison Time for Involuntary Manslaughter after Son’s Overdose

Daniel James, Sweetwater County Detention Center photo

ROCK SPRINGS — A Rock Springs man will spend 8 to 12 years in the Wyoming State Penitentiary for involuntary manslaughter after his toddler son died from an accidental drug overdose.

Daniel Scott James, 35, appeared in the Third District Court of Judge Richard Lavery recently for a change of plea and sentencing hearing to one count of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of possession of a controlled substance (marijuana and Alprazolam). Pursuant to a plea agreement, in exchange for James’ guilty plea to the felony involuntary manslaughter charge, the other two felony charges were dismissed.

James will be given credit for 195 days already served and was ordered to pay $200 to the Wyoming Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund, a $40 court automation fee, $10 legal service see, and $75 for the substance abuse assessment. While probation was considered by the court, it was not warranted in this case and he was given an 8 to 12-year sentence. The maximum sentence for this charge would have been up to 20 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

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Judge Lavery also recommended James participate in and complete all therapeutic and rehabilitative programs recommended in the Department of Corrections case plan.

The charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on the morning of October 21, 2022, when deputies responded to a home north of Rock Springs for a 2-year-old boy who was unconscious, unresponsive, and not breathing.

According to court documents, when emergency personnel arrived at the scene, James was performing CPR on the child, however the boy’s body was cold to the touch. Despite first responders efforts to resuscitate the boy, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

During the investigation, officers discovered illegal substances as well as prescription drugs including Buprenorphine, which is commonly branded as Suboxone and prescribed to treat opioid withdrawal. The substances and prescription drugs belonged to James.

On the night of October 21, the boy’s mother said when she returned home from work, her son had thrown up a couple of times and after cleaning him up she and the boy sat on the recliner until he fell asleep. She then placed a blanket over him and went to bed and laid next to James, who was already asleep. When she woke up the next morning, she noticed James was gone and she went to check on her son. She found James asleep in the reclining chair and looked like he had been holding a child, but no child was in his lap. She then found her son lying on the floor and noticed he wasn’t breathing. She called 911 after placing her son on the couch.

While interviewing James, he told the deputies he usually keeps his pills in an organizer on top of the microwave or in a safe. However on the night of the boy’s death, he noticed he was missing Buprenorphine and had to go to the safe to get more of that medication.

The autopsy did not show any signs of trauma or abuse to the boy, however the toxicology report showed the boy had taken a toxic level of Buprenorphine at the time of his death. While the toxicologist could not determine how many pills the boy took, it would have only taken less than one Buprenorphine pill to cause death.

James was remanded into the custody of the Sweetwater County Sheriff and will be delivered to the penitentiary to carry out his sentence.