Man whose son died in hot car released to parents’ custody

WASHINGTON — John Junek, in a white dress shirt and dark trousers, spoke calmly and clearly when asked to identify himself in federal court on Thursday. His wife, Annette, sat with her brother and Junek’s parents, with Junek’s sister alongside.

Junek is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of his 17-month- old son, whom he left in a hot vehicle at a Maryland naval base Wednesday, Sept. 3.

A criminal complaint says John Junek told a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent he was supposed to take the child to daycare at the Patuxent Naval Air Station on Wednesday but didn’t.

The document says the child was in the vehicle for about seven hours as temperatures reached 85 degrees.

In requesting that Junek be allowed to remain free pending trial, Junek’s attorney Megan Coleman told U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day, “I could go on all day about what a pillar of the community John Junek is.”

Prosecutors agreed that Junek could be released to the custody of his parents as long as he surrendered his passport and that firearms in the home be removed.

Christy O’Malley, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, pointed out that a search of Junek’s Leonardtown home turned up a loaded firearm on the nightstand in the Junek’s bedroom. The judge agreed that any firearms should be removed from the home where Junek would be staying until a preliminary hearing scheduled for Sept. 25.

The Junek family did not address reporters waiting outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Greenbelt. They walked clustered together, some holding hands, as they headed home.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan and the Associate Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on the WTOP Facebook page.

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