INDIANAPOLIS – A Speedway daycare owner was sentenced today for her role in a baby’s death.
Jacqueline Murray, the owner of Miracles and Blessings Daycare Ministry, pleaded guilty to the neglect of a dependent. Her most serious charge, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, was dismissed by the state in the plea agreement.
She was given a one-year suspended sentence and probation. If Murray completes the terms of her probation successfully, she will most likely not face any jail time.
Ten-month-old Taliah Brigham attended the daycare for only 8 days before her death, according to court documents.
Police responded on April 6, 2016, to a 911 call from a parent whose child attended the daycare. The parent told the dispatcher that a baby within the daycare was not breathing.
Police arrived to find the employee, Karen Tharpe, standing over Taliah’s body and rubbing the baby’s abdomen, according to court documents. She told police that Murray and another employee had left in separate cars about 30 minutes earlier to pick up children from local schools and bring them back to the day care. Tharpe was left to care for the 36 children alone, according to court documents.
Tharpe told police that she fed Taliah her bottle and then placed her in a car seat. She buckled only the chest strap, leaving the lower buckle unhooked. She left Taliah alone to check on the other children. Tharpe initially told police she didn’t remember exactly how long she was gone.
When she returned, Taliah had slid down in the seat, the buckle up to her neck. Her face was blue, and she did not appear to be breathing, according to court documents.
Tharpe said she performed CPR on Taliah until the police arrived. Taliah was taken to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, where she died the next day, according to court documents.
Murray did not arrive back at the daycare until the incident ended and the baby was taken to the hospital.
Tharpe was found guilty in a jury trial last month for her role in Taliah’s death and will be sentenced Friday at 2 p.m.
Today in court, Murray dabbed her eyes with a tissue. She spoke so softly that Judge Grant Hawkins requested she speak up.
“You were aware the daycare was understaffed?” Judge Hawkins asked.
“Yes, sir,” she said quietly.
“And you knew that it was your responsibility to keep it staffed even though you were not present?” Hawkins asked.
Again, she nodded. “Yes sir.”
In her statement to the court, Murray paused several times to wipe her eyes, sniffling as she spoke.
“It hurts my heart,” she said. “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it.”
Taliah’s mother, Samantha Plummer, spoke before the court, too. She said she thought as a single mother this was a place where she could go to get help. However, help was not found.
“She was neglecting every child in that daycare,” Plummer said.
Per court orders, Murray will not be allowed to contact Plummer or members of her family. She also will not be allowed to work in childcare.
Looking across the room, Murray choked up a bit before she said, “Samantha, I’m sorry.”
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