An unlicensed day care provider in North St. Paul with a history of watching too many children at a time has pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in connection with the strangulation death of a 6-month-old girl in her care.
Amy Jo Englebretson, 44, entered her plea Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court, and sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 17. Englebretson entered what is known as a “straight plea,” meaning there is no agreement with prosecutors on what her punishment will be.
Susannah Crider was found unresponsive in Englebretson’s home in the 2300 block of South Avenue late in the morning of Aug. 8, 2016. She was hospitalized and died about 45 minutes later. The daughter of Darrell and Erin Crider, of North St. Paul, had become entangled in the straps of her car seat.
“I didn’t do it right,” Englebretson allegedly told police of her placement of Susannah in the car seat for a nap. “[The strap] was too loose.”
She placed the car seat on a bed in the bedroom. Englebretson said she went into the bedroom once and Susannah was still asleep. She said she went into the room a second time and saw that the child had “scooted” down in the car seat, causing the strap to wrap around her neck.
The child “got strangled up,” Englebretson allegedly told police, according to the criminal complaint.
When police arrived, she had nine other children in her care: two 6-year-olds, three 3-year-olds, a 22-month-old, a 17-month-old and two 16-month-olds. Englebretson was the only caregiver in the home.
Parents who brought their children to Englebretson told police that she informed them she would have four to six children at her day care.
Police at the scene noted that the car seat’s warning label cautioned users never to place it on beds, sofas or soft surfaces. “The label also has a ‘Strangulation’ warning on it that reads, ‘Child can strangle in loose restraint straps. Always use harness. Never leave child in carrier when straps are loose or undone,’ ” the complaint said.
Englebretson allegedly told police that she had been operating her day care for less than a year and wasn’t licensed but was on a waitlist with the county. However, authorities determined that she had not applied for a license and that there was no waitlist.
Englebretson was licensed between 2000 to 2015 in Polk and St. Croix counties in Wisconsin, where she was cited six times for violating the number of children allowed in her care (no more than six) and their age restrictions.