Father gets 28 years for leaving toddler to die in burning car during police chase

(Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office)

A South Carolina man who left his 19-month-old daughter to die in a burning car during a police chase was given 28 years in prison after pleading guilty.

Imhotep O. Norman of Spartanburg was sentenced Tuesday, according to the office of 7th Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette. News outlets reported that officers tried to stop him for speeding in April 2019 as flames and smoke spewed from his car.

Instead, Norman drove over the median of Highway 14 and onto Interstate 85, where troopers forced him into the right lane. Then he jumped from the burning vehicle and as he ran away, a trooper saw him toss a backpack that held illegal drugs, the solicitor’s office said.

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Firefighters found his daughter’s body after extinguishing the fire. Xena Norman died from burns and acute carbon monoxide poisoning, the office said.

The toddler's father, who was arrested hours after fleeing into the woods, told investigators he thought the pursuing officers would rescue her.

Norman, 28, pleaded guilty to homicide by child abuse, failure to stop for a blue light and siren, and several drug charges. He will have to serve 85% of his sentence before he’s eligible for release, the solicitor’s office said.