The parents of a baby girl who died last August under a day-care provider's care say they are ready to concentrate on raising their second child.
Angela Bird won't go to jail for endangering the life of Hannah Grace Taylor, a baby four days shy of 6 months old when she died a year ago under Bird's care, a judge decided Friday.
The girl's parents, Christopher and Kimberly Taylor, said they were neither satisfied nor surprised with Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone's decision Friday to sentence Bird to two years' probation.
"But we are relieved we can put this behind us," Christopher Taylor said. "Now we can concentrate on raising Hannah's baby sister and remembering the good times we had with Hannah."
The Taylors brought their 3-month-old girl, Olivia Renee, to court with them. They also clutched a framed picture of Hannah.
Bird, 33, was caring for Hannah when the girl died Aug. 12, 1998, of asphyxiation. According to court testimony, Hannah's head became lodged in a hole of the playpen in which Bird had placed her. Hannah basically choked to death, Douglas County Coroner Erik Mitchell testified earlier in the case.
Prosecutors initially charged Bird with involuntary manslaughter, saying she was reckless because she knew the playpen was unsafe. In June, when she pleaded guilty to endangering a child, Bird admitted she knew the playpen wasn't a safe place to put Hannah.
Crying, Bird on Friday said she thought about the Taylors every day.
"I am so sorry," she said when Malone asked her if she wanted to make any comments before sentencing. "I wish it had never happened."
Kimberly Taylor then took over the podium, telling Malone the entire case has focused on Bird and not the victim.
"That person would be our daughter, Hannah Grace," Taylor said as her husband stood at her side. "She was our first-born daughter. " Because of your negligence and incompetence, our daughter died. This was no accident in our eyes."
Before sentencing Bird, Malone said, "I truly believe each family has suffered immeasurably."
But Bird's suffering can't compare to that of the Taylors', Malone said, noting that he has four children and can't imagine a greater tragedy than losing a child.
Malone said he faced an "emotional and complex" sentencing decision. In the end, he said nothing would be gained by sending Bird to jail.
"She's a mother, and she knows the lifelong pain she has caused Mr. and Mrs. Taylor," Malone said.
The judge also sentenced Bird to 200 hours of community service work and ordered her to pay Hannah's medical and funeral bills.
-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.