Day care worker files appeal, claims not enough evidence she ran child care

CARMEL, Ind. - A day care worker found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, deception and operating a child care home without a license has filed an appeal claiming the state failed to prove in trial court that she operated a child care.

Conor Tilson, 5 months, died January 24, 2013 at Stacey Cox home day care at 421 W. Main St. in Carmel.
He went down for a nap and never woke up.

A contributing factor to the baby's death was "an unsafe sleep environment on broken Pack and Play."

Stacey Cox was sentenced November 26, 2013 and by January 2014 had left prison and entered a work release program.

Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney has learned Cox filed a brief last month arguing there was not "substantive evidence to support a finding that Cox was a child care provider or that her residence was a ‘child care home.’"

Indiana statute says a child care home means a residential structure in which at least six children receive care, not including children or relatives of the provider.

Conor’s mother, Britney Killea, is the cousin of Stacey Cox.

"The evidence presented regarding the children that were present on the day of the offense, January 24, 2013, was limited at best," read the appeal. "Evidence would establish only four children that were being cared for in Cox’s home for ‘regular compensation’ and (Indiana Code) requires that six be for regular compensation."

Killea told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney prosecutors proved their case in court.

"I really think Cox’s going out on a limb to try and remove the charges," said Killea. "Our prosecutor did an amazing job representing our son."

Killea is asking for parents who attended Cox’s day care to come forward to Hamilton County chief deputy prosecuting attorney Andre Miksha.

Miksha declined to comment on Cox’s appeal, but the Indiana Attorney General said the state will file its response to the appeal on July 7.

"The Attorney General's Office is working with the local prosecutor to uphold the convictions against this unlicensed daycare operator," said Jaime Barb, spokesperson for the Indiana Attorney General. "The defendant will then have 15 days in which to file a Reply Brief, and after that the case will be fully briefed.  Upon full briefing, the Court of Appeals could decide the case based on the briefing only, or it could schedule an oral argument in the case where attorneys would argue the case to a three-member panel of appellate judges."

Court records said Stacey Cox and her daughter, Kirsten Phillips, who put Conor down for his nap, both tested positive for marijuana.

Conor’s parents have filed a wrongful death suit against Phillips, Cox and the Family and Social Services Administration, the state agency that regulates day cares.

A jury trial is expected in 2015.

The Stacey Cox day care was unlicensed.          

Conor’s parents said they were unaware of Carefinder, the state Family and Social Services Administration website where parents can look up inspection records.

If a provider does not show up on Carefinder, they are most likely unlicensed.

When a provider operates without a license, they do not have to submit to criminal background checks, training for CPR and safe sleep, as well as drug screens.

Follow Kara Kenney on Twitter: @karakenney6  | Facebook: KaraKenneyNews

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