Authorities in Vermont say a 6-month-old baby died on her third day at a daycare center when its owner gave her a lethal dose of Benadryl.
According to WSB, 53-year-old Stacey L. Vaillancourt appeared in court on Monday to plead not guilty to felony charges including manslaughter and cruelty to a child related to the January 24 incident.
An investigation determined that she gave the victim, Harper Rose Briar, medication only approved for use by adults except under doctor’s orders. A medical examination found the baby died from exposure to diphenhydramine, an ingredient in the medication.
Vaillancourt had reportedly given the girl Benadryl within a few hours of her death.
“Detectives also concluded that Vaillancourt was the sole person to provide care and supervision to Harper Briar preceding her death on Jan. 24, which was Harper’s third day attending Vaillancourt’s day care facility,” according to a Vermont State Police press release.
Officials say the suspect operated a state-certified daycare at the time of the incident. According to her attorney, she opted to close up after about 25 years in business in the wake of the death.
Rutland County State’s Attorney Rosemary Kennedy claimed that the suspect “sedated an otherwise beautiful, happy, healthy 6-month-old to the point that the baby could not lift her head and it died,” calling the charge “about as serious” as the state ever sees.
Marissa Colburn and Blake Briar, the child’s 21-year-old parents, described their daughter as a healthy girl who had trouble sleeping and often needed to be held.
Vaillancourt could face a 15-year jail sentence if convicted of manslaughter, plus another decade if found guilty on the child cruelty count.
This story has been edited to correctly attribute quotes by the county prosecutor.
[Featured image: Stacey L. Vaillancourt, Vermont State Police]