A man who admitted hiding cocaine and heroin in a car seat that held his 4-month-old son is justifiably behind bars on drug dealing and child endangerment convictions, a Superior Court panel concluded.
In making that call this week, the state judges rejected Michael Ray James’ claims that his little boy was never really in danger, even though the child was within easy reach of lethal doses of narcotics.
The drugs in the car seat case stemmed from a raid the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force staged at an Erie County motel in February 2013.
Senior Judge John L. Musmanno noted in the state court’s opinion that James admitted to possessing the drugs after his girlfriend came into the room during the raid carrying their son in his car seat. A detective found three plastic bags containing drugs tucked underneath the seat’s fabric lining.
Investigators said it was later determined that the bags contained nearly 129 grams of cocaine and about 54 grams of heroin. James admitted owning the drugs, although he subsequently testified that he was only holding them for a friend, Musmanno noted.
A jury convicted James, 33, and in January 2014 he was sentenced to 9 years and 9 month to 19 1/2 years in state prison. County Judge William R. Cunningham ordered James to serve that sentence consecutively to a 6- to 12-year jail term he was serving for an unrelated involuntary manslaughter conviction.
Musmanno found plenty of evidence to support James’ convictions in the car seat case. The simple fact, he wrote, is that “the 4-month-old was staying in James’ hotel room, which contained a significant quantity of cocaine and heroin.”