A judge sentenced a Del City man to 18 years in prison Tuesday in the fire deaths of three of his children, saying he failed to “parent his children properly.”
Christopher Lee Dunham, 26, was convicted on three counts of felony child neglect and drug-related charges and could have been given up to 64 years in prison.
“No, it's not fair. That's all I have to say,” Dunham said as he was being led away in handcuffs after the sentencing. He was at work as a tow-truck driver at the time of the fire, which started after his wife went to a nearby house and left the RV door locked from the outside.
A jury convicted him on May 11 in the Jan. 4, 2011, fire. Killed were Christopher Lee Dunham Jr., 4; Crystal Ann Dunham, 3; and Kailey Mae Dunham, 1. The children died of burns and smoke inhalation; one of the children was found clutching the family's dog next to the door. The youngest child's charred body was found on the front seat of the vehicle.
Stephanie Dunham, his wife and the children's mother, is to be sentenced July 11. She avoided a trial by pleading no contest to neglect and drug charges.
The jury recommended an 18-year sentence for Christopher Dunham on each of the child neglect counts and 10 years on a felony drug charge.
Oklahoma County District Judge Jerry D. Bass ordered Dunham to serve the terms concurrently and pay $22,000 in fines. Dunham must serve 85 percent of his 18-year sentence, or 15.3 years, before he is eligible for parole. He waived his right to appeal.
“It's a sad commentary on your ability to father your children properly,” the judge said.
Prosecutors asked the judge to run the child neglect sentences consecutively, saying Dunham cared more about manufacturing methamphetamine than his own children.
“They deserved better parents,” District Attorney Pamela Stillings said.
Father admitted crimes
In a presentence investigation report, Dunham acknowledged committing the crimes he was charged with and expressed remorse for his actions. He admitted using alcohol and illegal drugs throughout his life.
Dunham did not speak in court on Tuesday and turned away when prosecutors showed the judge pictures of the children's burned bodies, some of which were too graphic to be shown during his trial.NewsOK Search: 'Christpher Lee Dunham'