While fleeing from the scene, Kuhn was driving recklessly and crashed his car, sending his young son flying from the vehicle, according to a statement from the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors said that Kuhn did not stop to help his child but left him in the roadway and fled on foot.
He was found guilty earlier this week of third-degree murder in the death of his son, Qadan Trievel.
“Everything that went on that day was not just a tragedy, as the defense portrayed it, but it was malicious,” Deputy District Attorney Robert James said in the statement.
Authorities said Kuhn, from Hamilton, N.J., had taken his young son with him to the Walmart Supercenter in Levittown, a city in Pennsylvania not far from the New Jersey border.
A security guard at the store told police that Kuhn was pushing his son in a shopping cart and tried to leave the store without paying for a $228 Vizio sound bar, according to court documents. When the guard tried to stop him, he said that Kuhn responded, “You can’t hold me here.”
Security personnel at the store told police that Kuhn put his son in a gold-colored SUV without strapping him into a car seat, threw a sweatshirt over the license plate and drove away.
Witnesses told police that Kuhn was “driving recklessly” and traveling “at a high rate of speed through a steady red light,” when the SUV was hit by another vehicle, according to the court documents.
Court records say that when Kuhn’s SUV “flipped and rolled,” his toddler was ejected from the vehicle and suffered a fatal skull fracture.
A witness told police that Kuhn walked over to his child, looked at him and then started running.
Police caught Kuhn and took him into custody. When an officer asked him where his child was, he replied, “back there” — referring to the site of the multiple-vehicle crash, according to court documents.
The child was lying in the street near his father’s wrecked SUV; and the car seat, authorities said, was still inside the vehicle.
The child was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. No one else suffered serious injuries, police said.
During an emotional three-day trial, Marwin Sinno, who was also involved in the crash, told the court that he saw Kuhn leave his child behind after the accident.
“I looked over to my left and saw something. I thought it was a doll. I looked again, and it was a child on the ground,” he said, according to the statement from the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.
“He paced a couple of times, then he said a couple of curse words,” Sinno said about Kuhn. “Then he took off running.”
Later, when police captured Kuhn and took him back to the scene, they said he let out a long, high-pitched scream when officers told him that his son might be dead.
Senior Chief Deputy Public Defender Bradley Bastedo argued to the judge that Kuhn’s cries “were not the cries of a hardened heart,” according to the statement.
Kuhn was found guilty of numerous crimes, including “homicide by vehicle, accidents involving death while not properly licensed, driving under the influence of controlled substances, retail theft, endangering the welfare of a child, recklessly endangering another person, failure to stop at a red signal, driving under suspension or revocation, reckless driving and failure to use safety restraints on a child,” according to the statement from prosecutors.
Kuhn faces up to 40 years in prison for murder. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 15.
This story has been updated.