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HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami) — The defendant in a case of a toddler who died after being left inside a daycare van plead guilty on Tuesday.But not before apologizing to the family of Dominicue Andrews who was 22-months old when he died.

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Lelier Perez Hernandez, said in court, that he couldn’t apologize earlier because of legal reasons but he’s felt remorseful since the 2011 incident.

“There are really are no words for me to express that would bring back what had happened….All I can say is I’m very sorry and just as they suffer, I’ve suffered quit a bit. I’ve never been the same person again,” said Hernandez.

“I forgive you. Though it’s hard for me to accept it, but I forgive you,” Dominicue’s mother Porsha Andrews told Hernandez.

The little boy’s family spoke at the sentencing on Tuesday.  It’s been a very difficult four years for them.  While they know Perez did not mean to leave the little boy behind, they had been waiting for a simple apology.

“We never got told that and I know it was an accident, you know and I hate that it had to come to this, but he needs to feel what we feel,” said Dominicue’s grandmother Atila Bryant

“All I ever wanted was an, “I’m sorry.” I don’t believe in consequences of giving people life sentences,” said Porsha.

A judge sentenced him to six months in county jail followed by seven years probation after he plead guilty to aggravated manslaughter and tampering with evidence. He is set to start serving his sentence in 30 days.

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Hernandez was the driver of the Jomiba Learning Center daycare van on July 12, 2011, the day Dominicue died.

According to the arrest affidavit, Hernandez left Dominicue, known as PawPaw to his family, in the van all day long, while he remained strapped in his car seat.

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Hours later, when Dominicue’s teacher realized the toddler was missing, Hernandez checked the van and saw the boy still strapped into his car seat, unresponsive and not moving.

The affidavit states Hernandez picked up Dominicue and placed his body on a concrete slab on the east side of the school but didn’t tell anyone he had found the child. Then, he joined the search that had been started by daycare staff. Dominicue’s body was found a short time later.

Hernandez later admitted to police that he forgot the child was in the van and did not properly check the van once the kids were off.

An autopsy determined Dominicue died from asphyxiation and the manner of his death was accidental. Temperatures that day were in the 90s which means it was much hotter inside the van.

“I know all of this was a mistake and we’ve all made mistakes,” said Bryant.

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Click here to read more of our coverage on the case.

Ted Scouten