Charge Dropped Against Louisiana Daycare Center in Death

October 17, 2012

A prosecutor has dropped a negligent homicide charge against the former owner of a now-defunct Baton Rouge, La., daycare center in the July 2009 death of a 3-year-old girl left inside a company van for nearly six hours.

Betty McElveen, the girl’s mother, tells The Advocate her 7-year-old son helped her to come to peace with the decision to dismiss the charge against Wanda Connor.

“I felt like if I didn’t do something, I was giving up,” McElveen told state District Judge Mike Erwin. “But my son told me it wasn’t her fault.”

Connor, 51, was not in the courtroom Monday.

“It’s just a tragic situation. Mrs. Connor was devastated from the beginning,” her attorney, Gail Ray, said outside the courtroom. “I think that justice has prevailed.”

East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Charles Grey told Erwin he explained to McElveen that it is “highly unlikely” Connor would have been convicted in the death of D’Myion McElveen because she was not physically present in the van. Grey said McElveen agreed with his decision.

The judge told McElveen it is his legal opinion that it would have been difficult to prove Connor was criminally negligent.

Two ex-Wanda’s Kids World employees – the driver of the van and an aide in the vehicle – pleaded guilty last fall to negligent homicide charges and were given suspended five-year prison terms, put on probation for five years and ordered to perform 10,000 hours of community service.

Michelle Veals, the driver, and Kyandrea Thomas, the aide, are scheduled to appear Feb. 14 before Erwin for a probation review hearing. The judge also ordered Veals and Thomas to reimburse the victim’s family for their funeral costs.

Grey said McElveen settled her civil lawsuit against the day-care center and the insurer of the van.

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