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A child care worker pleaded not guilty this morning in Marin County Superior Court to misdemeanor charges in connection with the accidental suffocation death of a 4-year-old boy at a San Rafael child care center in October. Lorena Huitron Jimenez, 28, of Richmond pleaded not guilty to failure to provide medical treatment, failure to provide direct visual supervision and making false statements. The owner of the Magic Place Children’s Center, Claudia Gill, 44, and another child care worker, Sandra Del Socoro Alvarado Mendez, 49, both of Richmond, previously pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges. All three defendants are scheduled to return to court on Feb. 26. San Rafael police arrested the women in November on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter. The Marin County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and charged the defendants with violating child care licensing requirements in the state’s Health and Safety Code.
The Marin County coroner’s office determined the infant accidentally suffocated when his external airway was obstructed by bedding, San Rafael police said. Mendez is charged with failure to provide medical treatment. Gil is charged with failure to provide medical treatment, failure to provide direct visual supervision, making false statements, failure to provide adequate staffing, allowing an employee to provide care without a criminal record clearance and failure to maintain equipment. Attorneys were appointed for Mendez and Jimenez in court this morning. The infant’s parents, David Hampp and Anne Garwood, filed a wrongful death complaint in Marin County Superior Court in December, their attorney Richard Schoenberger said. He said the way the infant, Carter David Hampp, was placed in the crib at the child care center was “a classic example of a violation of fundamental baby care.”
Schoenberger said he has not received the full autopsy report so he doesn’t know if a pillow, blanket of the border of the crib suffocated the infant. He said the coroner’s offices uses the word “accidental” for a death that is not natural or intentional. Schoenberger said all the allegations about negligent care that are in the criminal complaint will be subject to inquiry in the civil wrongful death complaint. “The fundamental, fatal flaw was a violation of ordinary, normal care for infants — Child Care 101,” Schoenberger said. The Magic Place Child Care Center’s license has been suspended by the state Department of Social Services, Schoenberger said.
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