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US: Indian babysitter gets 14 years in jail over child's death

An Indian woman who worked as a babysitter in Connecticut has been sentenced to 14 years in jail for the death of a 19-month-old child in her care last year.

world Updated: Aug 29, 2015 08:52 IST
Babysitter,US,Kinjal Patel
Kinjal Patel was sentenced to 14 years in jail after she was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter. (Photo: New Haven City Police)

An Indian woman who worked as a babysitter in Connecticut has been sentenced to 14 years in jail for the death of a 19-month-old child in her care last year.

Kinjal Patel, 29, was sentenced on Wednesday after she was found guilty to first-degree manslaughter. But under a plea deal entered in Superior Court in New Haven, she will serve 14 years in prison.

She was charged with causing the death of 19-month-old Athiyan Sivakumar, who died at Yale-New Haven Hospital on January 19, 2014. His injuries occurred three days earlier while he was under Patel's care at her apartment, New Haven Register reported.

The office of the chief state medical examiner had ruled that the child's death a homicide and that the cause of death was blunt-force trauma with multiple sites of impact.

Patel's attorney, Kevin Smith, maintained the boy's death was an accident.

"There was zero intent on her part to harm this child," Smith said. "This was a horrible, tragic accident, probably due to her lack of experience with small children and not knowing how to handle these types of situations."

But according to the police warrant, Patel told police several versions of what had occurred before stating that after the boy gave her a hard time about eating rice and spat water in her face. Patel then picked up the boy and slammed his feet onto the kitchen floor about three times, then shook his head back and forth.

The warrant quoted her saying she then pushed the boy in the face and he fell backward, hitting his head. Under the agreement, the second charge, risk of injury to a minor, will be dropped.

Superior Court judge Patrick J Clifford will impose a 20 -year sentence, to be suspended after Patel serves 14 years.

She also will serve five years' probation, the report said.

Smith said that since Patel is not a US citizen, he expects federal immigration officials at that point will detain her and she will be deported to India.

Smith noted Patel potentially could have received a sentence of up to 30 years if she had been convicted on first -degree manslaughter and risk of injury.

Meanwhile, the boy's parents also face charges in the case. The father, Sivakumar Mani, 35, and the mother, Thenmozhi Rajendran, 26, both have been charged with risk of injury to a child and interfering with an officer.

They were charged because they allegedly lied to detectives about what happened the night their boy was injured. Rajendran allegedly told police initially that she was taking care of her son when she noticed his breathing was abnormal. Then she reportedly said he had fallen while reaching for a doorknob. Mani allegedly backed up his wife's "abnormal breathing" story.

First Published: Aug 28, 2015 17:41 IST