South Carolina Day-Care Operator Gets 20 Years For Infant’s Death

Day care facilities owe a duty of reasonable care to the children they take care of. A Columbia, South Carolina day-care operator was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for negligently killing a 9-month-old baby in May 2007. Retired Army lieutenant colonel, Willie Ritter, 65, had forgotten to remove the baby, Javon Simpson, from the van after picking up the child in the morning.

Prior to this incident Ritter had a history of violating South Carolina child care laws at his day care center. In 2001 he was cited by state officials for leaving a infant unattended in a van. He was also cited for failing to maintain transportation logs n 1998 and 2003. According to court documents, he violated adult-to-child ratios on numerous occasions.

When Ritter picked up the child, her mother placed her car seat directly behind Ritter. He then picked up another child and drove to the day care center, but left Javon in the closed van, where she sat in the hot sun all day and later died. The cause of death was cardiac arrest due to hyperthermia.

It wasn’t until Ritter left to pick up children for his after-school day care program that he finally noticed that Javon was still in the van. After another child told him about the baby, he continued to pick up children before returning to the day care center. He did not take the baby to the hospital or even make any phone calls to emergency medical personnel.

Prosecutors said that Ritter acted with “extreme indifference to human life.” Not only did he leave the child alone in the van all day, but he also kept Javon from getting medical attention.

Ritter pleaded guilty to homicide by child abuse in July of 2007. Because there is no mandatory minimum sentence for the charge of homicide by child abuse, Ritter’s lawyer asked for a suspended sentence, citing a case in which a day care worker admitted to harming an infant and was given only probation. Victim advocates were relieved to see that Ritter was sentenced to prison and that he must serve 17 years before he will be eligible for parole.

Charleston accident lawyers believe it is important that your children are properly taken care of at a child care center that adheres to all state laws. If your child is mistreated at a child care center, it is important to seek advice from an experienced South Carolina attorney.

Source: The State-“Man gets 20 years in infant’s death”-September 22, 2009.

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