The mother of a 2-year-old who died after being left in her daycare van said Wednesday she had no idea a 16-year-old was responsible for the children’s care.
“Not trying to be funny, but I don’t trust any 16-year-old with a child,” April McAlister, Jazmin Green’s mother, told the court.
But it was a teenage volunteer who ultimately said all of the children were off the van after it returned to Marlo’s Magnificent Early Learning Center after a field trip to Chuck E. Cheese in June 2011, according to investigators. The trial began Wednesday for the daycare’s owner and her daughter, both charged with murder in Jazmin’s death.
Between 1:30 and 2 p.m. on June 20, 2011, the van returned to the daycare center, near Jonesboro. Staff members and other children went inside, but Jazmin was left in the van, police previously said.
More than two hours later, the daughter of the center’s owner, Quantabia Shantell Hopkins, realized the toddler was missing. While temperatures were in the mid-90s, Jazmin was found inside the van. She was still strapped into her car seat. Jazmin was transported to the hospital, but did not survive.
Bryant McAllister, Jazmin’s uncle, previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that with temperatures being so hot, the day care center staff should have been extra cautious when transporting children.
“My baby suffered in that van,” he said.
Hopkins and her mother, Marlo Maria Fallings, were arrested, along with Miesha Ridley, who was 16 at the time and a volunteer at the center.
In August 2011, Ridley was sentenced to two years’ probation and 40 hours of community service, and she was ordered to create a memorial to Jazmin. On Wednesday, Ridley was in tears as she told the court that leaving Jazmin on the bus was an accident, Channel 2 Action News reported.
Prosecutors argued that it wasn’t Ridley’s job to ensure that all of the children were accounted for after returning to the center.
Assistant DA Deah Warren said Fallings signed paperwork stating she was one of two required adults on the trip, but didn’t go. Warren also said Ridley signed the paperwork saying she was an adult, even though she was not.
The trial resumes Thursday.