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Plea deal in daycare death case | News

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Plea deal in daycare death case

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (WXIA) -- A grandfather is fighting in memory of his three year old grandson.

He died at an Alpharetta daycare last year. A trial is scheduled for this fall, but the grandfather believes the day care owner charged with his death may not be prosecuted to the letter of the law.

He's concerned that a new Georgia law that went in to effect days before his grandson died is not being honored. Instead of the stiff penalty laid out in that law, 11Alive has learned that a plea deal is being offered instead.

"I hope that they don't demean his life with this plea bargain. I want it withdrawn immediately," said Wayne Stephens.

Stephens was one of the last to see his grandson alive last summer before the child was left at Ms Jenna's Home Child Care in Alpharetta.

"I was there, and I saw him four hours before he died," he recalled.

Police say owner Janna Thompson left the backyard for a moment, possibly with other children. When she went back out she saw the toddler hanging from a loop of twine tied to the top of the swing set.

An indictment shows Thompson's charges: Second Degree Murder and Cruelty to Children.

That combination is referenced in House Bill 271. It sets a punishment, regardless of malice, of not less than ten years imprisonment. The plea deal could reduce that.

"I want there to be a trial if there's not going to be a significant sentence," Stephens said.

His grandfather believes a plea deal of less than ten years would not follow the letter of a new law intended to protect toddlers.

"My opinion is it would say to the other day care workers out there that the toddlers don't count for much," Stephens said.

Defense attorney John Garland said no plea deal has been accepted. He called this "A terrible tragedy. There is not a day that goes by that Janna doesn't think of Max and grieve for Max's family. His death is a horrible accident, and the evidence shows that Janna is not guilty of criminal conduct."


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