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Murder indictment for leaving stepson in swamp
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DARIEN — A Georgia man was indicted on murder charges this week in the death in his teenage stepson, who died in near-freezing weather on a hog-hunting trip in a rugged swamp near the Georgia coast.

Daniel Clark Head, 15, died cold and alone after authorities said his stepfather Brian Gale left him overnight in the Buffalo Swamp in March 2010, the Florida Times-Union reported.

A McIntosh County grand jury this week indicted the boy's stepfather, Brian Gale, 40, on several charges including murder, manslaughter, cruelty to children and contributing to the depravation of a minor.

If convicted, the murder charges carry an automatic life prison sentence.

Gale told investigators that he decided to go for help after they became lost in the woods. He said the boy had become too weak to walk, and that he could no longer carry the boy, authorities said.

The boy's body was found face-down in about 12-18 inches of water, about 30 yards from dry land, in March 2010, authorities said. He drowned due to hypothermia, an autopsy found.

The boy wasn't wearing adequate clothing to survive in the cold and wet swamp, court documents filed with the indictment state. Searchers found him dressed in a shirt, jacket, long pants and hip waders in the swamp, which is about midway between Savannah and Jacksonville.

Gale acted with "reckless disregard" for the teen's life by leaving him alone in the swamp at night when he was weak and fatigued, and didn't have adequate clothing to survive, the indictment records state. His conduct was "extremely negligent" and led to a very high risk the teen would be seriously injured or die, the indictment states.

Gale's actions also caused "cruel and excessive mental pain" to the teen, according to the indictment.

A phone number for Gale was disconnected. It wasn't known Thursday whether he has an attorney.

Gale's arraignment is set for June 14 in McIntosh County, District Attorney Tom Durden told the Times-Union.

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