NORFOLK, Va. — A Norfolk daycare worker accused of killing a 2-year-old girl in her care was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter by a jury Wednesday afternoon.
Jessica Cherry was originally charged with second-degree murder, but the judge put involuntary manslaughter on the table for jurors during jury instruction.
Prosecutors say on August 18, 2020, Kaylee Thomas was found unresponsive at a home on Jennifer Street. Medics took the girl to the Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters, where she died later that day.
On Wednesday morning in court, prosecutors brought the former head of child abuse pediatrics at CHKD to the stand. They showed her photos she took during the autopsy, where she identified cuts, bruises, and scrapes around Kaylee’s body to the jurors.
Cherry took the stand and through tears told jurors she put the toddler down for a nap that summer day. When she came to check on her, Cherry said she found the toddler unresponsive with vomit coming out of her nose and mouth.
She said she started CPR and yelled for her husband to call 911.
Throughout the trial, attorneys for the prosecution and defense argued about the vomit.
Prosecutors said investigators didn’t find vomit. The defense said the prosecution doesn’t want to make a big deal about it because it could have caused the toddler to suffocate.
During the autopsy, the chief medical examiner said they found bruising and scrapes around the girl's face possibly due to smothering.
But defense attorneys argued the medical examiner also said the bruises could have resulted from CPR.
Both the prosecution and defense focused on the presence of cameras in Cherry’s home. Prosecutors showed photos of a camera lens facing down in the room where the girl napped.
Cherry said that is so the alarm on the camera didn't sound when it detected motion and didn't wake up the children.
The defense said the involuntary manslaughter charge carries up to 10 years in prison. Cherry's sentencing is scheduled for December 16.