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Father pleads guilty in son's '05 drowning

September 19, 2006

The father of a 5-year-old boy who drowned last year pleaded guilty on Monday to charges relating to his son's death.

Fehim Cerimagic, 35, pled guilty to endangerment, a Class 6 felony. Cerimagic, who was unavailable for comment, will be sentenced on Nov. 6 in Maricopa County Superior Court.

He faces up to two years in prison.

Tempe police officers found Kenan, Cerimagic's only child, in the family's backyard pool on May 5, 2005. Cerimagic called police after his son had been missing for about 30 minutes.

Cerimagic told police he dug up the family's rusty, rotting pool fence only three days before the tragic drowning. Cinder blocks and wrought iron for a new fence were in their carport, and the father said he planned to start the project the day his son died.

He called relatives who live nearby and then called 911, police said.

When police arrived at the home on Minton Drive, Cerimagic told investigators he had last seen Kenan about a half-hour before, playing in the backyard with the family's dog, police said.

An officer began to use a cleaning pole to feel around the pool, which was so murky with algae that it was impossible to see the bottom, police said. The pool pump had apparently been broken for a couple of months.

Kenan was found motionless at the bottom of the deep end and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

City officials said the family had been reported the previous year for violating the city's "deterioration" code for the dirty condition of the pool, but the pool was drained when inspectors arrived.

"In the past, the office has refrained from charging in these cases," said Barnett Lotstein, a special assistant to Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, of the charge. "We felt this rose to criminal conduct, not necessarily to manslaughter. We look at this very carefully. There has to be a deterrent. People have to get the message."
Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
By Sarah Muench
Copyright 2007 Arizona Republic

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