Two defendants in the criminal case surrounding the death of a baby at an illegally-operated daycare in Hood River in May 2018 have each pled guilty to one charge of criminal mistreatment in the first degree, a felony, and one charge of operating a childcare facility without certification, a misdemeanor.
The remaining charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, both felonies, and four additional counts of operating an unlicensed childcare agency, misdemeanors, were dropped in both cases.
Judge John Wolf sentenced Donna J. Pilcher, 63, and Debra Lee Jones, 62, to 18 months of prison time, with all but 180 days suspended, and credit for the 90 days already served. They are both to report to serve the remaining 90 days of their sentences on Jan. 1, 2020.
They each also received 60 months supervised probation and orders to avoid contact with the victim’s family and never again seek work in the childcare field. Jones received 80 hours of community service, and Pilcher received 150 hours.
Jones was fined $1,620 and Pilcher was fined $920; each amount includes $370 in restitution for the victim’s family. As of press time, Pilcher has paid the entirety of her fine, and Jones has a $500 balance remaining.
Both defendants were released on pretrial bail in late December on condition that they do not seek work in the childcare industry, have no unsupervised contact with children, and refrain from contact with their co-defendants and the victim’s family until their cases were closed.
Debra Jones’ wife, Rochelle Jones, 52, was sentenced back in January after she pled guilty to one charge of criminally negligent homicide, a felony, and one charge of Operating a Childcare Facility without Certification, a misdemeanor. The remaining charges — second-degree manslaughter, first-degree criminal mistreatment, and four counts of operating a childcare facility without certification — were dropped.
She received 90 days of jail time with credit for the 90 days already served, 60 months of probation, 80 hours of community service, and orders to avoid contact with the victim’s family and never again seek work in the childcare field. She also received a $1,000 fine — which was raised to a $1,250 fine in March — that has been paid in full.
However, this isn’t the end of the legal cases surrounding the infant’s death: A fourth defendant, childcare licensing compliance specialist Julie Smith, 61, The Dalles, received two misdemeanor charges — official misconduct and operating a childcare facility without certification — for allegedly helping the daycare where the incident occurred, Mama Shell’s, stay in operation after the Oregon Office of Child Care revoked the business’ license in April 2017.
Smith pled not guilty to both charges is scheduled for a six-person jury trial in Hood River County Circuit Court the week of Sept. 24.
The four defendants were each indicted back in September 2018 following an incident that led to the death of 4-month-old Cyrus Macioroski on May 15, 2018.
According to the October, 2019 article written by Molly Young, Cyrus was put down for a nap on a bed in the house, surrounded by propped up pillows “so he wouldn’t roll,” and left alone for anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes before Rochelle Jones’ 18-year-old son “went into the bedroom to close the windows and saw foam coming out of Cyrus’ mouth. A bottle slid out of the baby’s mouth as he walked into the room,” the Oregonian/OregonLive reported. After the discovery, someone attempted CPR and 911 was called, the article stated.
At the time, the Mama Shell’s Daycare was being illegally operated in the 1100 block of Red Tail Loop in Hood River. Cyrus was immediately transported to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, where he died the same day.
Pilcher, Debra Jones and Rochelle Jones all turned themselves in to the Hood River County Sheriff. Smith’s warrant has been canceled and she remains free as her case makes its way through the court system.
Mama Shell’s did hold a Registered Family Child Care Home License for the care of 10 children from Sept. 20, 2012, to Sept. 20, 2014, and a Certified Family Child Care Home License with a 16-child capacity from July 22, 2013, until the license was placed on emergency suspension on Nov. 1, 2017.
Regulators rediscovered the daycare operation in January 2018, operating at a different address, and cited Debra Jones for providing unlicensed childcare to as many as six children “in age from infants to young school-agers” in the Jones’ family home, and the daycare was ordered to be shut down.
The Oregon Department of Education, which oversees the Office of Childcare, placed Smith on leave the day of her indictment but, as of press time, she is still listed as a full-time state employee with the department’s field office in The Dalles.
“We are concerned by these developments, are deeply committed to child safety and have started our own personnel investigation into this matter,” said Marc Siegel, communications director for the Oregon Department of Education, in a previous statement.