Two Hood River day care providers pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree criminal mistreatment of a baby who died in their care in May 2018.
Debra Jones, and her sister, Donna Pilcher, both admitted in court documents that they knowingly left Cyrus Macioroski unattended in a manner likely to endanger him. The pair cared for Cyrus at the in-home, unlicensed day care they operated with Jones’ wife, Rochelle Jones. Rochelle Jones pleaded guilty in January to criminally negligent homicide. All three women also pleaded guilty to operating a day care without certification.
A judge sentenced Debra Jones and Donna Pilcher on Thursday to 1 ½ years in jail, but required them to serve only six months of that time and suspended the rest of the sentence, according to court records. The sisters were also ordered to complete five years on probation and community service and not work in the child care industry.
Neither the Hood River County prosecutor nor attorneys who represent Debra Jones and Pilcher returned messages Tuesday regarding the criminal proceedings.
State child care officials had tried and failed to shut down the operation more than a year before Cyrus’ death. Records show that Debra Jones and two other unnamed women were cited in January 2018 for caring for as many as six kids without a license.
Four months later, on the day Cyrus stopped breathing, officers counted 10 children in the care of the Joneses and Pilcher.
Cyrus was 4 months and 12 days old.
A search warrant affidavit filed in the case did not say his exact cause of death. According to the document, Pilcher put Cyrus down for a nap on an adult-sized bed and situated pillows around him so that he wouldn’t roll off the bed.
The Office of Child Care had revoked the license of a day care operated by the Joneses in April 2017 after state child welfare investigators concluded that children were given melatonin without their parents’ consent.
But kids remained in the care of Jones. Julie Smith, a state child care regulator from Hood River, is accused of helping the day care remain in business from May to December 2017.
Smith is charged with official misconduct and operating a day care without certification. Her trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 24.
The criminal charges linked to Cyrus’ death became Oregon’s highest-profile case involving a death at day care in at least two decades.
Then in July, a Lane County grand jury indicted Nicole Sumpter, a Springfield day care operator, on charges of second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, first-degree criminal mistreatment and evidence tampering.
Sumpter had an active child care license when 9-month-old William Cannon died in her care in August 2018.
The families of William and Cyrus have filed paperwork in court indicating that they may file wrongful death lawsuits.
— Molly Young
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