An Arizona couple whose actions led to the death of two of their children and their niece were spared prison time after their surviving children pleaded with a judge to allow them to come home.
Daniel Rawlings intentionally drove his truck over the flooded Bar X Crossing Tonto creek close to his family’s home on November 29, 2019. He, Lacey Rawlings and their children, as well as their niece, had already crossed Tonto creek on their return journey when they decided to do it again. “the kids are having fun,”According to police, Lacey Rawlings was the one who told them. The vehicle was unable to pass a road warning sign and the water swept away Colby, 6, and Willa, 5, respectively.
Colby’s and Austin’s bodies were found the following day. The Arizona Silver Belt was reported. Willa’s body was found on Dec. 13, 2019.
“It was extremely dangerous, extremely irresponsible behavior given the conditions out on that river at that time,”Inside Edition was told by Bradley Soos, a prosecutor.
Daniel Rawlings pleaded guilty for manslaughter, and Lacey Rawlings guilty for child abuse.
The sentencing hearing was attended by two children from the couple, Nelly (12 years old) and Dallan (13 years old). They spoke about what it would have been like to see their parents free.
“My dad is a big part of my life and I’d really love it if he could stay with me,”Nelly stated that part.
“My life wouldn’t be the same without them. And I would like for them to stay home,” Dallan said.
Lacey Rawlings, who also spoke, cried and said, “It is a mistake I agonize over every single day and I will agonize over for the rest of my life.”
Judge Timothy Wright was moved to sentencing the parents to probation after hearing their pleas. “This case is a tragedy,”Wright said that Wright spoke before issuing the sentences. The Silver Belt Report. “There’s nothing that can bring back the three children who perished. These defendants failed to raise their children.”
Outside court, family members and supporters celebrated, but Soos, who asked the court that Daniel Rawlings receive the minimum term of four years for each manslaughter count, said the sentence handed down is not justice.
“I strongly disagree with this decision.” Soos told Inside Edition. “It sent a bad message to anyone who might engage in similar irresponsible behavior with children. They will not be punished for it, I believe.”