Man facing life in prison in daughter's death heads to trial

- The case against a man facing life in prison in connection with the death of his 7-year-old daughter was sent to trial Wednesday.

Wilburt Thomas, 47, is facing second-degree murder, child abuse, reckless driving causing death, driving under the influence, and possession of marijuana and open intoxicants in the vehicle.

Police say around 2 a.m. July 15, 2018, Thomas was driving a van stolen from his employer while intoxicated with his 7-year-old daughter Desandra in the vehicle. He crashed into a disabled vehicle on I-94 in Romulus and when his daughter left the car to get help, she was killed by another a driver. Investigators say that driver will not face criminal charges.

Man charged in daughter's death, facing life in prison

An officer who responded to the scene testified that he arrived to find Thomas at the crash scene with a head injury. He says Thomas told him his daughter had been in the vehicle but left to get help. Thomas appeared to be intoxicated and there was a 40 oz. beer bottle on the ground.

One witness was a driver who noticed a vehicle crashed into the barrier fence. The witness said he shined a flashlight and saw a man behind the driver's seat in the vehicle. He got out on his own, and the witness said there was blood on the side of his head. He did not observe another person in the car.

Prosecutors argued Thomas engaged in a series of decisions that's ultimately led to the child's death, including driving a vehicle intoxicated -- two times the legal limit -- with marijuana in his system in the middle of the night with his daughter without proper child restraints and safety, then told her to or allowed her to get out of the car.

"He knew she got out of the vehicle. If she is out of the vehicle on the phone communicating with 911, why didn't he do it?"

Defense said they do not believe there is enough evidence for a second-degree murder charge. 

"Apparently the young girl was going to get help, either she went with a person or not, but that wasn't because Mr. Thomas said hey, young lady -- because there's been no testimony on this record -- you go get help for me. Mr. Thomas was not in a state whether concussion or otherwise where he could have made that particular call," she said.

The judge bound over Thomas on all charges and his $1 million cash surety 10 percent bond was continued.

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