A Baton Rouge woman who opened an unlicensed day care in the city after the state shut down another center she operated in Baker was indicted Thursday in the June 5 death of a 22-month-old girl left unattended on a 92-degree day in a day care van near the north Baton Rouge facility.
Shelia Newman, 48, 6330 Prescott Road, was charged with negligent homicide by an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury that chose to take no action against one of Newman’s employees, 26-year-old April Wright, in the death of Angel Gabrielle Green.
The unlicensed day care, at 6345 Prescott Road, is across the street from Newman’s home.
She faces up to five years in prison if convicted as charged.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he agreed with the grand jury’s decision not to indict Wright, of Baker, on a negligent homicide charge. Moore also said he does not expect the case to return to the grand jury.
“I believe we have the totality of the information,” he said.
Police had booked Newman on counts of negligent homicide and obstruction of justice, accusing her of trying to force Wright to lie about where and how Angel was found.
Newman and Wright, according to police, had taken 16 children, Angel included, to lunch at a nearby church, but only 15 kids were unloaded from the van when they returned. Wright realized at some point that Angel was missing.
When she checked the van parked at Newman’s house, Wright found Angel in the front passenger seat, a police report states.
The child was extremely hot and unresponsive, the report says. Hospital staffers told police Angel arrived with a core body temperature of 108 degrees.
Police said the girl spent at least two hours trapped in Newman’s van.
Newman instructed Wright to tell detectives Angel was found in the backyard of the day care, the report alleges. Wright also was supposed to pour water on the back steps to make it appear she had cleaned up vomit.
The Coroner’s Office said exposure to intense heat killed the toddler. Her death was ruled accidental.
State law requires facilities that care for more than seven unrelated children to be licensed by the Department of Education.
After the state last year revoked the license of a day care Newman was operating on Thomas Road in Baker, she swore in a September 2014 court document that she would never operate an unlicensed child care center in Louisiana.
In March 2013, state inspectors could not locate paperwork at the Baker center showing drivers checked their vehicle to make sure no children were left behind after road trips. Attendance on the trips also was undocumented.