The Zachary father arrested last week on a negligent homicide count in the death of his baby daughter, who perished after being accidentally left in the backseat of his hot car, will not face any charges, the District Attorney’s Office said Monday.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said all the evidence shows Raylee Mercer’s death “was a tragic accident” on the part of a father who had no history of abusing or neglecting children.
Marvin Mercer, 31, was booked into East Baton Rouge Prison on Wednesday after he’d brought Raylee to a hospital following his realization that he had left her in his car for two hours outside the Baton Rouge school where he works. Temperatures that day reached 93 degrees.
Mercer “had the misfortune of forgetting that he was supposed to drop his eight month old child at day care on his way to work, a task he was not normally involved in, and, instead, parked as he normally did upon reaching work, leaving his child in the car,” Moore wrote in a statement.
“Although his own actions and inactions did contribute to the loss of Raylee, Marvin Mercer’s actions do not rise to the required criminal level of a gross deviation below the standard of care expected of reasonable persons,” he continued. “Marvin Mercer is a loving father, husband and role model to youth in the Baton Rouge area. Throughout this tragedy, Marvin Mercer has had the complete support of his wife, family, colleagues, and friends.”
Mercer, the head baseball coach at Madison Preparatory Academy, a high school, was released on $10,000 bail late Wednesday.
After the arrest, state Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, questioned whether police moved too quickly in arresting Mercer, noting that the parents “are already hurting.”
Baton Rouge police Sgt. Don Coppola said in a statement, “We felt there was enough probable cause to charge (Marvin) Mercer with negligent homicide. We respect the decision of the district attorney not to prosecute.”
Coppola declined to answer further questions by phone or over email.
Police have discretion on whether to make arrests. Officers sometimes refer cases to the district attorney without making an arrest beforehand.
The district attorney can then decide whether to charge or can choose to bring a case before a grand jury to decide whether to file charges.
No one answered the phone when a reporter called a number associated with Marvin Mercer’s family on Monday.
Raylee Mercer died accidentally of suspected hyperthermia, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner William “Beau” Clark said last week, referring to preliminary autopsy results.
Raylee’s death was the 11th fatality of a child in a hot car in the U.S. this year, according to research by Jan Null, a research meteorologist at San Jose State University, who studies the phenomenon.
“The facts and evidence show that Raylee was well cared for and not subject to neglect, abuse or mistreatment. Marvin Mercer has no previous history that suggests he was in any way careless to the needs of his children,” Moore said.
Follow Maya Lau on Twitter, @mayalau.