NORFOLK, Va. (TCD) -- A 39-year-old day care operator was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for the neglect of one child and the death of another.
According to the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, in June 2018, a 1-year-old in Jessica Cherry’s care fell from a chair, hit her head on the floor, and suffered extensive bruising and a skull fracture. On Jan. 6 of this year, Cherry pleaded guilty to felony child neglect in that case.
About two years after that infant’s injury, the Attorney’s Office said 2-year-old Kaylee Thomas "was found dead in a pack-and-play at Ms. Cherry’s home" on Aug. 18, 2020.
Cherry called 911, and the child was transported to Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, where she was pronounced dead, the Virginian-Pilot reports.
Days leading up to the child’s death, Thomas reportedly had a stomachache and was vomiting repeatedly. According to the Attorney’s Office, she had multiple bruises, abrasions, and possible arm fractures.
The forensic pathologist who conducted the child’s autopsy concluded that Thomas was possibly smothered and died from asphyxia, the Virginian-Pilot reports. The child also reportedly suffered blunt force injuries.
Cherry was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter and gross wanton or reckless care for child in that case, records show.
According to the Attorney’s Office, Cherry was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in August 2022, and on March 17 of this year, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
In a statement, Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi said, "As a parent, there is no greater nightmare than putting your baby in the hands of someone who will hurt them."
Fatehi continued, "Jessica Cherry brought that nightmare to life for these parents and their children. These were hard-fought cases with disputed facts, but we have held Ms. Cherry accountable and done what we can to protect other children from Ms. Cherry."