The former owner of a Miami day care center has accepted a plea deal in connection with the 2016 death of a 2-year-old who was left in a van for six hours.
Karen Aviles, 41, was charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of Angel Matute-Chavez.
Under the plea deal Aviles agreed to in court Tuesday, she’ll serve 120 days in the Miami-Dade County jail, followed by 10 years of probation.
Aviles must also pay $4,445 in restitution and will make a $200 donation to a charity in the name of the child that died for each year of probation.
She is also prohibited from working in any role that would require the care or supervision of children.
Aviles had been facing a maximum of 30 years in prison if she’d been convicted.
During Tuesday’s court hearing, a brief video of Angel was played and a statement from his parents was read.
“Their loss is unimaginable,” Judge Laura Stuzin said.
Authorities said Aviles’ Vision of Life Academy wasn’t registered to transport children when Angel and other kids were picked up and driven to her center the morning of Sept. 28, 2016.
She allegedly told investigators she had to rush to a meeting, so she told an employee to unload the children.
Angel was somehow left inside. His body was found in the afternoon.
In court Tuesday, Aviles’ mother said in Spanish that her daughter is innocent and shouldn’t be going to jail. She said another employee who wasn’t charged was the one who didn’t check to make sure the van was empty.
“My client essentially was held responsible for this death because she owned the school rather than having a culpable negligence responsibility for what happened,” defense attorney Simon Steckel said.
State law requires that two employees visually inspect vehicles to make sure no children remain. Starting Jan. 1 of this year, state law requires alarms to be installed in vans used by about 1,500 day cares in Florida. The alarms prompt the driver to inspect the vehicle for children before walking away.
Alarms have been required in day care vans in Miami-Dade County since 2012.