A Mississippi municipal court judge ordered Joshua Blunt released on his own recognizance Tuesday during his second-degree murder charge hearing, CBS News reports.
Blunt’s 8-month-old daughter died after he left her in his hot car for four hours on May 19 in Grenada, Miss.
According to CBS, the prosecutor told the judge that her office wants to reduce the charges against Blunt, 25, to culpable negligence. He would face a maximum punishment of one year in prison compared to life behind bars on the second-degree murder charge. But Judge Rusty Harlow wants to meet with the district attorney before making a final decision.
Grenada County District Attorney Doug Evans was present at the hearing but was not involved in the proceedings, the Associated Press reported, according to CBS.
Evans declined to comment on whether he believes that Blunt was aware his daughter was in the car, although Evans acknowledged to the AP that he reviewed the investigation report.
The DA explained the procedure involved in changing the charges. He told the AP, via CBS: “They’ll have to bind it over to the grand jury and we’ll have to look at it and decide whether to present it to the grand jury.”
According to CBS, Blunt’s attorney Carlos Moore plans to mount a vigorous defense, even if the charges are reduced.
Blunt’s brother-in-law, John Archer, told CBS that he was called into work on his day off. Archer said the unexpected call likely broke his routine of taking his daughter, Shania Caradine, to her mother’s home.
Moore told CBS that Blunt and a co-worker found Shania in the car and brought her inside the restaurant where he worked. They placed cool towels on her and called an ambulance. But doctors were unable to revive the infant.