A man was convicted of a reduced charge of manslaughter today for wresting a 7-year-old girl’s life jacket away from her and leaving her to drown in a Mississippi lake.
Troy Carlisle, 28, told authorities he was trying to save Dallas Reinhardt when he removed her life jacket to pull her to shore.
But Carlisle also testified that he knew the girl would die.
Kerri Peeples, the child’s mother, screamed as she left the courthouse, “This is not justice. He murdered my child.”
Carlisle faces a maximum 20-year prison sentence at his Oct. 20 sentencing.
A ‘Depraved Heart’ Statute He originally was charged under a 130-year-old Mississippi law called “depraved heart murder,” which is filed when someone is suspected of placing another person in imminent danger of death. The charge carried a penalty of life in prison.
Dallas’ body was recovered following a two-day search of Arkabutla Lake in northwest Mississippi.
She, her 4-year-old brother Garrett, her stepfather Kenny Peeples and Carlisle had gone fishing on the lake in Peeples’ boat on May 7. The children, wearing life jackets, jumped in the water for a swim.
When the two began drifting from the boat in a strong current, the men jumped in to pull them back. Peeples went for Garrett and Carlisle swam to Dallas.
Neither had on a life jacket and Carlisle said he panicked after swallowing water.
Judging a Drowning Man Prosecutors said Dallas would likely have survived had Carlisle not taken the life jacket to save himself.
But defense attorney Jack Jones told jurors it was unreasonable to apply normal standards to the situation.
“How do you judge a drowning man? You can’t do it,” he said.
In a taped interview played to the jury, Carlisle said the child’s jacket could not support the two of them so he decided to take it off her and wrap it around his arm. He said he then tried to pull her to safety.
Carlisle said he became tired and the water either yanked the girl from his grasp or he let go.
“I was thinking I was gonna die or she was gonna die,” Carlisle said. “I didn’t really want both of us to die, so I figured I’d take it off her and put it around my arm ... but she slipped out of my hand.”
Later, he told deputies he felt “scared, ashamed and disappointed” as he thought back on the scene.