Day Care Owner Gets 29 Years For Killing Toddler

| by Michael Howard
James Patrick NemethJames Patrick Nemeth

A San Diego day care owner who pleaded guilty to shaking an 11-month-old boy to death and abusing two of his own children was sentenced on June 9 to 29 years in prison.

James Patrick Nemeth, 39, pleaded guilty in January to voluntary manslaughter and child abuse in relation to the May 2012 death of Louis Oliver who was at Nemeth's day care facility, reports KSWB. He also pleaded guilty to hitting two of his sons with a belt, choking them and punching one of them in the stomach.

Evidence showed that Nemeth was alone with Louis at the day care on the afternoon of May 23, 2012. Nemeth told police the toddler was a "little limp" when he woke him up from a nap. He said he put Louis in a car seat and found him unresponsive after a short time.

Louis was pronounced dead the following morning. According to the testimony of several doctors, the child had severe retinal hemorrhages resulting from non-accidental trauma.

Marilyn Kaufhold, a pediatrician and expert in child abuse, testified that Louis' death was the result of "shaking that caused internal bleeding," according to KNSD.

Deputy District Attorney Nicole Rooney said Nemeth lied to investigators about when he dialed 911. She said he did so only after talking to his mother on the phone for four minutes.

In court Rooney said Nemeth shook Louis a week before the child's death.

Nemeth obtained his license to run the day care after he lied to officials about his past, Rooney said.

Cristina Oliver, Louis' mother, addressed the defendant during sentencing.

"You assaulted and shook my son to death," she said. "You are evil. My family has been altered forever."

Michael Oliver, Louis' father, called Nemeth a "bottom-feeder and a failure" and said his son's death should result in stricter regulations at day care facilities.

Nemeth's daughter, who also worked at the day care, reportedly told investigators that her father was verbally abusive toward the children in his care and often lost his temper when babies cried.

A former employee previously called Child Protective Services after allegedly witnessing Nemeth push a boy's nose against the wall.

Nemeth's sentence came a day after he attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that his attorney had misled him. Superior Court Judge Joan Weber denied the motion after Nemeth's attorney testified that Nemeth wanted to plead guilty early in the case, according to the Times of San Diego. 

Sources: KSWB, Times of San Diego, KNSD / Photo credit: San Diego Union Tribune

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