A babysitter was charged with first degree murder and child endangerment after admitting she slammed a three-year-old girl into the floor. Now, thanks to a special plea deal, she will no longer face life in prison. Instead, she got a sentence of "up to 100 years," with no minimum. That means the Iowa Board of Parole can release her whenever it wants.
Rochelle Sapp, 34, ran a daycare center in her eastern Orange City, Iowa, home.
In October 2013, Sapp slammed three-year-old Autumn Elgersma into the ground because the toddler reportedly refused to take off her coat.
Sapp then called Autumn’s mother, who came immediately and took the child to the hospital. The girl was airlifted to the Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls in North Dakota, where doctors discovered that she had a fractured skull and brain trauma.
Autumn died two days later. A medical examiner ruled the death a homicide caused by blunt force head injuries.
Daily Mail reports that Sapp had initially told police that Autumn fell down the stairs and banged her head; later, however, she admitted to throwing her against the ground.
Sapp had initially been charged with Willful Injury and Child Endangerment Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury.
As Sioux County Attorney Coleman McAllister said, “In this case the initial charges were based on the medical evidence and opinion available to the state at that time.”
McAllister explained that upon Autumn’s death, however, the circumstances changed.
“The medical examiner’s office in Des Moines took time to make sure they did a thorough and complete examination and we like everybody else was waiting for them to render an opinion for us to evaluate so we could move forward with charges,” McAllister said.
As reported by the Sioux City Journal, Autumn’s death has generated enormous interest in Orange City, a highly religious and conservative town of 6,200 in northwestern Iowa.