A Connecticut baby-sitter who was charged with causing the death of a baby has been found guilty of manslaughter in the first degree. The conviction was reached after an agreement.
The sitter, 29-year-old Kinjal Patel, will spend 14 years behind bars. She is to be sentenced on Oct. 29 for the death of Athiyan Sivakumar, who was 19 months old. Athiyan died on Jan. 19, 2014, at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Connecticut, after being injured in Patel’s care at her apartment.
The baby’s death was ruled a homicide with blunt-force trauma at multiple sites, according to the chief state medical examiner’s office. He had a severely fractured skull, reports New Haven Register.
Kevin Smith, Patel’s lawyer, said she pleaded under the Alford doctrine, in which a defendant admits there is enough evidence for prosecutors to get a conviction at trial, but does not count as an admission of guilt.
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“There was zero intent on her part to harm this child,” Smith said. “This was a horrible, tragic accident, probably due to her lack of experience with small children and not knowing how to handle these types of situations.”
“The physical evidence (if the case had come to trial) would not show a plan or thought on her part. It was just split-second reactions with unintended but tragic consequences,” Smith added.
According to a police warrant, Patel told officers several different versions of what had happened but eventually admitted that she slammed the boy's feet on the floor roughly three times, then shook the boy’s head back and forth, reports New Haven Register. This was reportedly in response to the boy refusing to eat rice and spitting water.
The warrant quoted Patel as saying she pushed the boy in the face which caused him to fall backwards and hit his head.
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Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Clifford will give Patel a 20-year sentence that will get suspended after 14 years, as well as five years of probation. Smith said that because Patel is not a U.S. citizen, federal immigration officials will likely detain her and she will be deported to India.
The boy’s parents were also charged in the case with risk of injury to a child and interfering with an officer, after they allegedly lied to detectives about what happened the night the boy was hurt. The mother reportedly told officers the boy had fallen while reaching for a doorknob.