Daycare workers convicted in hot-car deaths make appeal to Supreme Court

Crime

PORTALES, N.M. (KRQE) – A mother and daughter, sentenced to 30 plus years in prison for the death of an infant at their daycare, want their convictions thrown out or a new trial. Their attorneys took the case to the New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday, arguing this was just a tragic accident and the women, are paying a steep price for it.

“I know I will carry this with me every day for the rest of my life,” said Mary Taylor. That was Taylor at her sentencing in March of 2019.

Mary and her daughter Sandi were convicted in the death of 22-month-old Maliyah Jones and injuries to then 2-year-old Aubri Loya. Prosecutors believe the two girls were left in a hot car for almost three hours while at the Taylor Tots Daycare in Portales in July 2017. The women both apologized to the victims’ families at sentencing.

“I just want Erika and Kristen and all their family to know I am so sorry from the bottom of my heart,” said Sandi Taylor. The judge ultimately sentenced Mary to 36 years in prison and Sandi to 30 years. “This, as the evidence presented at trial demonstrated, was a day filled with reckless disregard for the safety of the children,” said the Judge.

However, on Wednesday the state Supreme Court heard arguments asking the justices to reverse the state court’s convictions or give Mary and Sandi a new trial. Their attorneys are arguing the state did not produce any evidence that either of the women intended to leave the children in the car. They also claim prosecutors misused the definition of child abuse by reckless disregard, the charge they’re convicted of.

The defense says this was all a simple, tragic accident. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is not unreasonable to believe that Mary did not know what was going on, she believed the children had been inside and something happened when was gonna [sic] go fax the documents, believing they had only been out there for a few moments,” said their attorney during closing arguments last year.

At the time of the sentencing, the victim’s family was happy to get justice. “I feel like, relieved you know, too, to know that they are being held accountable,” said Erika Tafoya the mother of Maliyah. The surviving child suffers from permanent brain damage.

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