- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 5, 2021

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) - An Indiana man pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury in the drownings of his two sons.

Eric Patillo, 37, wept as he entered his plea before Lake County Judge Samuel Cappas. Authorities say 4-year-old Levi Patillo, 4, and Evan Patillo, 2, were unresponsive when two fishermen pulled them from the Kankakee River near the Illinois-Indiana state line on Aug. 21, 2018.

The fishermen alerted authorities about two men with young children in the area, telling police they were concerned for the children because Patillo appeared to be going in and out of consciousness, authorities said. The fishermen noticed the children had disappeared when they saw Patillo diving into the river. The fishermen found one child in nearby moss, and Patillo’s friend, who had been in a nearby pickup truck, later found the younger boy underwater.

Patillo told a witness that he was high on heroin while at the river with his sons, according to investigators.

Cappas set a June sentencing date has been set for Patillo, who faces up to 16 years in prison.

Defense attorney Robert Varga said the children’s mother will testify on Patillo’s behalf at his sentencing hearing. He has been in custody since the boys’ drownings.

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