Day care provider is charged in in­fant’s death

Ch­ester­field in-home fa­cil­ity was un­li­censed

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY MARK BOWES

An un­li­censed day care provider who rou­tinely watched more than 16 chil­dren at once in her Ch­ester­field County home has been charged with in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter and felony child ne­glect in the death of a 3-month-old boy in her care.

Af­ter a month­s­long po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion and con­sul­ta­tion with the Ch­ester­field Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, au­thor­i­ties have charged Car­rie C. Per­si­chini, 52, in the Aug. 23 death of Peter Hitt.

Po­lice re­sponded at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 23 to Per­si­chini’s home in the 4200 block of Bridge­wood Road, near the in­ter­sec­tion of Hull Street Road and state Route 288, for a re­port that an in­fant was un­re­spon­sive and in car­diac ar­rest. The boy was taken to St. Fran­cis Med­i­cal Cen­ter, where he was pro­nounced dead.

The state med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice de­ter­mined the child died of “sud­den, un­ex­pected in­fant death as­so­ci­ated with un­safe sleep en­vi­ron­ment,” a spokes­woman said. The man­ner of death was ruled un­de­ter­mined.

Po­lice said the in­fant was sleep­ing in a fold­able playpen with a re­mov­able bassinet that a baby also can sleep in.

Necole Sim­monds, di­rec­tor of public af­fairs for the Vir­ginia Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices, said Per­si­chini did not have a state li­cense to pro­vide child care. Vir­ginia law re­quires providers of home day cares to be li­censed if they watch five or more chil­dren un­re­lated to them.

Ch­ester­field Sgt. Brad Con­ner said Per­si­chini was “rou­tinely” car­ing for up­wards of 16 chil­dren but less than that on the day the in­fant died.

Con­ner said he could not im­me­di­ately re­call how many chil­dren Per­si­chini was watch­ing on Aug. 23, but it was more than five chil­dren.

“It was over the re­quired amount for a li­cense to be re­quired,” Con­ner said.

He said there was no in­di­ca­tion that “any­thing in­ten­tional was done to cause the child’s death” and “there is not one par­tic­u­lar thing in this case that re­ally led to those charges.”

How­ever, “it was kind of a cul­mi­na­tion of (sev­eral fac­tors),” Con­ner said. “And cer­tainly the num­ber of kids be­ing watched at the time con­trib­uted to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and prob­a­bly as­sisted the com­mon­wealth’s at­tor­ney in mak­ing that de­ci­sion to go for­ward on charges.”

Per­si­chini was charged un­der a new state law, ef­fec­tive July 1, that stiff­ens the penalty for un­li­censed child care providers con­victed of crim­i­nal ne­glect in cases in which a child dies or is se­ri­ously in­jured in their care. The of­fense, a Class 4 felony, is pun­ish­able by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

The Vir­ginia Gen­eral Assem­bly last year passed leg­is­la­tion known as “Joseph’s Law” in re­sponse to the Oc­to­ber 2014 death of Joseph Matthew Allen, 1, who was fa­tally in­jured in an ac­ci­den­tal fire at the home of his day care provider, Lau­rie Un­der­wood. The child was mis­tak­enly left in a sec­ond-floor bed­room of Un­der­wood’s Midlothian home, strapped in an over­turned in­fant car seat.

Un­der­wood was charged and con­victed of il­le­gally op­er­at­ing the in­home day care with­out a re­quired state li­cense — the only of­fense that pros­e­cu­tors said she could be charged with at the time. Un­der­wood was watch­ing eight chil­dren, more than she was legally al­lowed with­out a state li­cense; she also was car­ing for more than four chil­dren younger than 2 years old, an­other vi­o­la­tion.

She was sen­tenced to 12 months in jail with four months sus­pended.

Vir­ginia leg­is­la­tors in 2015 passed a law that low­ered the thresh­old for state li­cens­ing of a home day care to five or more chil­dren un­re­lated to the owner. The thresh­old at the time of Joseph’s death was six or more.

Per­si­chini turned her­self in to po­lice Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. She has been re­leased on an un­se­cured bond and is sched­uled to ap­pear Jan. 19 in Ch­ester­field Ju­ve­nile and Do­mes­tic Re­la­tions District Court.

Per­si­chini

FAM­ILY PHOTO

Three-month-old Peter Hitt died at a Ch­ester­field County day care. The provider has been charged in his death.

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