VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- Marlene Rice, 49, pled guilty to 11 counts of operating unlicensed daycare after a toddler was found dead at her home.
The child was found dead on August 15, 2016. Investigators say Rice was operating the unlicensed daycare out of her home at the time of the death.
The Commonwealth originally charged Rice with Child Abuse/Neglect.
After reviewing the autopsy report, which stated that the 4-month-old's cause of death is sudden unexplained infant death, prosecutors say they did not have sufficient evidence to connect Rice to the baby's death.
“We’re sympathetic to what happened," said Richard Doummar, Rice's attorney. "It’s just that she’s not guilty for that child’s death.”
As a part of the plea agreement, the Child Abuse/Neglect charge was amended to a misdemeanor. The amended charge was added to 10 previous counts of operating an unlicensed daycare, making 11 total.
Each count carries a maximum one year punishment.
During the preliminary hearing back in 2016, four witnesses took the stand.
During the hearing, a detective testified that Ms. Rice told him she fed the baby, put her down for a nap in a pack and play, then later when she went to check on her, the baby was unresponsive. The detective said Rice picked the baby up, ran downstairs, set her down on the floor then called 911. Dispatchers talked her through CPR, but the baby died.
Rice's sentencing date is set for November 21, 2017.
To find out if a child care provider has a license from the state, you can search a database on the Virginia Child Care's website.
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