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Man gets 10 years in death of infant son

Robert Lentz faced a manslaughter charge after his month-old son, Francis Lentz, died of heatstroke from being left in his car seat.

By JAMAL THALJI
Published November 28, 2006


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NEW PORT RICHEY - Francis Lentz would have celebrated his second birthday this fall. He would have been in elementary school by the time his father got out of prison.

But the infant's death two years ago is the reason Robert Lentz is going to prison.

The elder Lentz agreed Monday to spend 10 years behind bars for aggravated manslaughter of a child.

His child.

By taking the plea deal and avoiding a trial this week, the 45-year-old New Port Richey man also avoided the 30-year prison sentence he faced if convicted.

"The victim's grandparents are fine with the sentence," prosecutor Eva Vergos said.

Francis Lentz was a month old when he died of heatstroke on Sept. 16, 2004, authorities say, after his father left him in the back seat of his car for six hours, the windows up.

Robert Lentz told authorities he didn't want to wake the child after he picked him up from a relative's house. Lentz drove home, fell asleep, then awoke without knowing where his son was.

He drove back to the relative's house, authorities say, and discovered his son still in the car seat, dead.

The baby's temperature was 104.6 degrees.

The infant's mother, Patricia Widmann-Lentz, 33, is serving time for unrelated offenses.

Times researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6236.

[Last modified November 27, 2006, 23:46:53]


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