BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A former daycare owner was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to a negligent homicide charge in connection with a toddler's death.
A judge ordered Shelia Newman, 49, of Baton Rouge, to spend the next five years in prison in the death of 22-month-old Angel Green in June 2015.
Losing a child is one of the hardest things a parent can go through, but a court's decision is bringing some closure for one grieving mother.
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It was a day of closure for Joy Green, the mother of Angel Green, a vibrant toddler affectionately known as "Angel Toes." She died from heat exposure at a hospital in 2015 after being found left in a daycare van. Prosecutors said Newman was operating the daycare illegally after losing her license a year earlier. She pleaded guilty to negligent homicide last year.
"She was just completely wrong," said Joy Green. "And if she hadn't continued to operate a daycare illegally, I might still have my child. I would still have my child."
In court, Newman asked for forgiveness from Angel's mother, who didn't respond, but who said in a tear jerking statement that she lost her mind after learning of her youngest daughter's death.
"There's a word for a child that loses his or her mother. There's not a word to describe a parent that has to bury their child," Joy Green added.
Newman was sentenced to five years in prison, serving two years and five years of supervised probation.
Green said the pain will linger, but peace and closure are in the future.
"Even if she got life, it's not going to take away the pain or take away or stop me from waking up in the middle of the night when I dream about my baby and I'm just crying, overwhelmed with hurt and pain and grief. So, the sentence really doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is that it's over," Joy Green explained.
Newman's attorney was remorseful.
"As we all know, a sweet baby is gone and so, it's beyond me to say what's fair and not fair," said defense attorney Karl Ludwig. "I know Judge Daniel is a fair man and he made the decision he thought was appropriate."
As for Angel's mother, she's vowed to help other grieving parents and use this unfortunate event as a platform.
"I may never fully be myself. I may never fully get over this, but at least I can help somebody else," Joy Green said.
A second line is being held in Angel Green's honor Friday night at Heavenly Gates Mausoleum.
Newman was ordered to pay restitution for funeral and daycare costs amounting to $6,075 within the first three years of probation. The judge also ordered her to perform 300 hours of court-approved community service and she must pay the cost of grief counseling for the victim's mother. The amount is to be determined later.
According to police, Newman left Green in a hot van returning with a group of kids from lunch.
Documents showed Newman's license to run a daycare center was revoked in April 2014. At that time, she also agreed not to operate another center.