Prosecutors on Tuesday filed charges against the owner of a Casper child care center where an infant died in October.
Sara Beth Whited, 48, faces one count of child endangerment for her alleged role in the death of 3-month-old Tyler Parker on Oct. 11.
The charge, a misdemeanor, carries a maximum possible penalty of one year in jail.
Whited is slated for an arraignment in Natrona County Circuit Court on Feb. 25, when she will formally answer to the charge.
When contacted Wednesday, John Robinson, Whited's attorney, declined to comment.
Tyler Parker's mother found him unresponsive inside a bedroom at Sara's Child Care, the day care center Whited operates at her Vista Way home.
Nichole Parker told investigators that on Oct. 11 at about 3:30 p.m., she found her son “cold to the touch” and his face appeared “bluish and purplish.” When she tried to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, she found his jaw “locked shut,” according to an affidavit from the case.
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The infant was taken to Wyoming Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Nichole Parker told investigators her son was “swaddled in a blanket” and “his arms were tightly pulled down to his body” when she found him, the affidavit states.
A subsequent autopsy found the child's cause of death to be “asphyxia by bedding due to the fact of the infant being swaddled and placed on a soft foam bedding.”
According to the affidavit, which quotes from the rules and regulations governing day care providers, “Infants shall be placed on their backs for sleeping unless a licensed healthcare provider signs a waiver.”
Investigators say no such waiver was found in Parker's case.
A worker at Sara's Child Care told authorities that between 10:30 and 11 a.m., the infant consumed about two and a half ounces of formula and then was placed in a playpen to sleep. The employee claimed that before the child was put in the playpen, Whited wrapped him in a blanket, according to the affidavit.
At about 11:30 a.m., the child, still wrapped in a blanket, was moved to a memory foam pad so another child could be put in the playpen, authorities say.
Investigators say that the way the child was wrapped, he would have been unable to raise himself up on his hands.
Whited, in an interview with detectives, said she checked on the infant in the room at least three times.
“Whited stated numerous times that she had personally checked on the child every 10-20 minutes and that she placed her hand on the child and the child was still breathing,” the affidavit states.
However, authorities say that the facts they found do not support that claim.
“This simply can not be sustained and the child must have been dead for a considerable period of time before it was discovered,” the affidavit states.
The investigation into Parker's death indicated “that there had been multiple complaints of inadequacy at the daycare,” according to court documents. The latest such complaint was on Aug. 27, 2010, according to the affidavit.
Whited, according to court documents, has operated her own day care center for more than 19 years.
On Wednesday, Nichole Parker, in commenting on the charges, said, “I'm pleased they they've followed through with an investigation, and found her responsible.”
Parker added she understands that Whited is innocent until proven guilty.