Daycare owners who left toddlers in hot car sentenced to 36 years in prison

New Mexico
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The two daycare owners who were convicted of killing a toddler and severely injuring another child were sentenced Monday despite a last-minute effort to get the conviction dismissed. 

A judge sentenced daycare owner and operators Mary and Sandi Taylor to the maximum 36 years in prison for the death of Maliyah Jones and injuring Aubriauna Loya.

“I feel relieved to know that they are being held accountable,” said Erika Tafoya, reacting to the sentence Monday.

The Taylors, who used to operate a Portales daycare called “Taylor Tots,” left two one-year-old girls in their car in July 2017 after a trip back from a park.

The girls were found after spending nearly three hours in the car. Maliyah Taylor died of her injuries. Aubriauna Loya suffered permanent brain damage.

“I’m so sorry you and your family had to endure so much hurt and pain because of this terrible accident,” Mary Taylor said through tears to the courtroom Monday.

“Never would we want to hurt her or any of the children.I love them like they were my own grandchildren,” Taylor sobbed.

Mary Taylor’s daughter Sandi also apologized for what happened.

“I just want Erika and Kristen and all their family to know that I am so sorry from the bottom of my heart,” said Taylor.

The state asked for the maximum sentence of 36 years for each of the defendants. The defense was asking for 12 years and probation, calling the incident an “accident.”

Ahead of sentencing, Maliyah’s mom tearfully told the judge it’s been a nightmare living without her daughter. 

“To hear that she was just forgotten and left like she was nothing is heartbreaking,” Maliyah’s mom, Erika Tafoya, said.

“She kept me going, and when we had her she gave my life a purpose,” her dad, Gerret Jones, said. 

A jury convicted the Taylors on both counts of reckless child abuse in February after a week-long trial. 

The judge shaved six years off Sandi Taylor’s sentence, saying she was “truthful” with police about what happened, while her mom tried to tell them the girls were asleep on the couch and didn’t know what happened.

The Taylors’ attorney has already filed a motion requesting they get released on bond until their appeal. 

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