A babysitter who acknowledged her role in a toddler’s death has accepted a plea that could send her to prison for less than 8 years.
Dana Shell, 44, of Warsaw, was initially charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a class A felony; and reckless homicide, a class C felony. She was in court Thursday for a plea hearing where she agreed to plea guilty to the C felony charge of reckless homicide. In exchange for her plea, the class A felony charge was dropped.
At 1:39 p.m. Aug. 6, medics and police were called to Shell’s home at 907 S. Union St., Warsaw, after receiving a 911 call of an unresponsive toddler. Payton Brettell, 18 months, was pronounced dead at 2:13 p.m. by the emergency room physician at Kosciusko Community Hospital. Payton’s death was ruled the result of accidental positional asphyxia, or accidental strangulation.
Following more than a two-month investigation, police arrested Shell. Investigators said over the course of several interviews Shell admitted that she improperly strapped the toddler in a car seat, which was in a bedroom of her home.
Shell acknowledged knowing there was a concern with his well-being, but failed to take immediate action to care for him or even report there was a problem.
Paramedics were called by another adult who found the child unresponsive. Because of Shell’s failure to take action or seek medical attention, the class A felony charge was filed.
In Indiana, a class A felony carries the penalty of 20 years to 50 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The class C felony which she pleaded guilty to, carries a term of no less than 2 years and no more than 8 years imprisonment.
Shell will be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 16, in Kosciusko County Superior Court I by Judge Duane Huffer.