Georgia woman sentenced to 30 years in prison in child care death of 4-month-old

Oct 13, 2023, 12:53 PM

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — A suburban Atlanta woman has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for the 2021 murder of a 4-month-old who died after she placed him to sleep on his abdomen in the child care center she operated out of her basement.

A judge sentenced Amanda Hickey, 48, on Friday after families of children she was accused of abusing gave emotional testimony against her.

”I know that there is nothing I can say in words to take away their pain, except take responsibility and express extreme sorrow for what I’ve done,” Hickey told DeKalb County Superior Court Chief Judge LaTisha Dear Jackson, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This is my legacy now.”

Charlie Cronmiller was being cared for in Hickey’s Little Lovey child care center when he died on Feb. 3, 2021. Hickey didn’t check on him for more than two hours before finding him covered in vomit and not breathing. The infant was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Hickey operated the child care center from the basement of her Dunwoody home. She initially told investigators that she put the baby down on his back, in line with state regulations, but that the child rolled over onto his abdomen. Security video, however, showed Hickey actually placed the infant facedown.

Video showed her swinging other babies by their feet, slamming them into the ground, pulling their hair, pushing and tripping toddlers, and placing others in unsafe positions for sleep, prosecutors said. The victims ranged in age from 6 to 18 months.

Hickey was licensed to care for six children, but prosecutors said 10 were inside her home the day Charlie died.

She pleaded guilty Sept. 22 to seven counts of first-degree child cruelty, seven counts of reckless conduct, one count of second-degree child cruelty and three counts of battery. Hickey entered an Alford plea, which allows a person to maintain her innocence while acknowledging that it is in her best interest to plead guilty to charges of second-degree murder and second-degree child cruelty related to Cronmiller’s death.

“There is no remorse,” the baby’s mother, Stephanie Cronmiller, told the court Friday. “The only thing she’s sorry about is that she got caught. I focus on forgiving myself because I chose her. How could I not think this was my fault?”

Hickey was taken into custody immediately after the hearing. Jackson ordered that once Hickey is released from prison, she can’t have contact with the victims or any children younger than 13, and can’t gain financially from the case.

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Georgia woman sentenced to 30 years in prison in child care death of 4-month-old