A McIntosh County judge sentenced Brian Gale on Friday in connection with the 2010 death of his teenage stepson.
The jury found Gale guilty of contributing to the deprivation of a minor and involuntary manslaughter. He was found not guilty of malice murder, felony murder, cruelty to children and child endangerment. He was sentenced to a total five years to serve; five years probation.
Jurors debated Gale's fate for three hours before stopping on Thursday. They resumed deliberation on Friday morning.
Gale testified about the trip into the swamp from which his stepson did not return. He and Daniel Head, were going to the Buffalo Swamp on March 7, 2010, for a few hours to prepare hunting plots.
Gale said that a few hours into their hike, Daniel became fatigued and lethargic.
He said those delays kept them in the swamp later and forced them to find their way back out in the dark. But Gale said Daniel lost an expensive flashlight he'd let the teen use, so seeing their GPS became more difficult.
Gale said he left the boy in order to find a way out of the swamp to find help.
Gale claimed it took him 10 hours to find his way to the nearest home to get help for Daniel. He found friend Keith Williams at home and Williams said Gale arrived almost unrecognizable, muddy, suffering hypothermia and unable to speak.
Friends of Gale testified on Thursday that Gale knew the Buffalo Swamp better than almost anyone. However, even the most experience outdoorsman could become lost in the dense woods, thick mud and Cypress trees.
During cross examination, prosecutors questioned whether Gale was honestly lost or delaying his return to Daniel. The state claimed Daniel's death may have been deliberate.