Trial begins in day care couple's involuntary manslaughter trial

Baby died pinned by baby gate at day care

FISHERS, Ind. - Jury selection wrapped up Tuesday in the trial of Saundra and Daniel Wahl, a Fishers couple charged with involuntary manslaughter, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

The Wahls run Home Away From Home day care, where Anthony DiRienzo, 20 months, was found wedged between the wall and the vertical bar of a swinging metal baby gate, according to court documents.

DiRienzo died June 20, 2013.

The latch on the baby gate was broken, and the Wahls were aware that the latch was broken and tried to mitigate the risk by placing a rocking chair and swing against the gate, Detective David Finn of the Fishers Police Department said in the affidavit.

"The evidence, we believe, shows it was not merely an accident and rises to the level of criminal culpability," said Andre Miksha, Hamilton County chief deputy prosecutor.

Miksha said the state plans to spend Tuesday afternoon and much of Wednesday presenting its case, which will likely include testimony from police and the Family and Social Services Administration.

"We believe we have sufficient admissible evidence to prove that a crime was committed, and the investigation we have here supports that," said Miksha.

The Wahls face up to three years in prison, if convicted.

According to documents just obtained by Kenney, the Family and Social Services Administration has officially revoked the license for Home Away from Home as of April 24 and the day care no longer appears on Carefinder, the state’s database of licensed providers.

FSSA spokeswoman Marni Lemons told Kenney the Wahls still have a week left to seek judicial review of FSSA’s decision.

Under state law, the Wahls could still operate with five or fewer unrelated children as an unlicensed provider.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Bureau of Child Care visited the home of Saundra and Daniel Wahl on June 24, several days after DiRienzo died, and cited the day care for lack of supervision the day the child died.

FSSA inspectors also found Home Away From Home was not meeting proper child-to-staff ratio requirements, and the state issued a probationary license on July 1.

Inspectors returned July 16 and found the same violations, including two infants in "pack and plays behind a closed door."

"They were not meeting the supervision requirement of leaving the doors open," read the FSSA document. "On this day there were 4 children under 16 months of age and 1 over 24 mos inside with Mrs. Wahl while the other 7 children were outside with Mr. Wahl. This would have required 2 staff inside the home with the 5 children."

The Call 6 Investigators have spoken with parents who are still sending their children to Home Away from Home and are supportive of Saundra and Daniel Wahl.

The Wahls’ defense attorney, Jim Crum, has declined to provide a statement regarding the case.

You can check the status of your day care provider's license here. 

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

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