A daycare worker facing child endangerment charges in connection with the death a 3-month-old baby in Bristow had the charges against her dropped.
Mirna Mendez leaves court in Manassas Tuesday a free woman, nine months after the death of 3-month-old Teagan Sample at an in-home daycare in Bristow where Mendez was working at the time.
Mendez and her co-worker, Yolanda Larin, were watching over 23 young children at the unlicensed facility last March when Teagan was found unconscious. Both faced child endangerment charges relating to other children at the facility, but Tuesday a judge ruled Mendez was not criminally responsible for Teagan's death.
"The court felt she was just an employee and had no control over the environment. Our position was that she went to work every day knowing these children were at risk," says Sandra Sylvester, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney of Prince William County.
"The evidence was that on many occasions my client told the owners 'We need help,'" says David Daugherty. "These calls for help went unanswered."
The married couple that owned the facility was out of the country at the time and in October pleaded guilty to eight total charges, including reckless endangerment of a child.
But no one is going to jail and Sylvester says that only sharpens the pain for Teagan's parents.
"They blame themselves, as a lot of parents did that day, and they're doing the best they can," she says.