Indiana child care provider charged after baby’s death pleads guilty

Booking photo shows Debra Keyes. (Provided Photo: Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office)

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — A former child care provider has pleaded guilty to her charges after an investigation revealed a baby died of suffocation taking a nap in a broken crib while under her care.

Debra Keyes, also known as Debbie Houchin, pleaded guilty Monday in open court to reckless supervision by a child care provider, a Level 6 felony, and operating a child care home without a license, a Class B misdemeanor. No plea agreement was used.

On April 25, 2016, Lafayette police were dispatched to the 1700 block of Shenandoah Drive for a child not breathing. When officers arrived, medics were carrying the 13-month-old child out of the home. The infant was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital and pronounced dead.

According to court documents, Keyes told officers she knew her day care was not licensed. She also admitted the wooden crib she used for child’s nap was broken.

A forensic pathologist performed the autopsy on the child and found the cause of death to be mechanical asphyxia.

Prosecutors charged her in June.

Keyes has a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 22, where a judge will determine the length and terms she will serve. The felony charge carries a range of six months to 2½ years behind bars.

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