Suspended sentences for child care center owner, employee in 2016 death of 10-month-old

Karen Tharpe (left) and Jacqueline Murray (Provided Photos/Marion County Jail)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The owner and an employee of a Speedway child care center have received suspended sentences this week after being found guilty of child neglect charges, court records show.

A jury in August found the employee, Karen Tharpe, 56, guilty of reckless supervision by a child care provider. The court ruled Friday she must perform eight hours per week of community service for a year and must stay away from any child care centers. A one-year prison term was suspended.

Tharpe and Miracle and Blessings Daycare owner Jacqueline Murray, 53, both faced criminal charges in the death of 10-month-old Taliah Brigham of Carmel. Tharpe was sentenced in the same court where Murray pleaded guilty, Marion Superior Court, Criminal Division 5.

Murray, 53, had a more serious charge of neglect of a dependent resulting in death dismissed Thursday as part of a plea agreement with Marion County prosecutors. A one-year prison term for Murray was suspended Thursday during sentencing.

Taliah Brigham (Photo Provided/Randall & Roberts Funeral Home)

On April 6, 2016, Murray left the daycare to pick up other children from school, leaving Tharpe as the sole caregiver for 36 children, prosecutors said. Tharpe, 56, told police she placed Taliah partially strapped into a car seat and left her unattended for about five minutes. Tharpe returned to find Brigham not breathing, she told police. Taliah died April 7, 2016, at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

“The fundamental allegation here is that it’s thoroughly inappropriate to leave that many children in the care of one person,” Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told reporters during a news conference announcing the charges against Murray and Tharpe in August 2016. “I certainly would anticipate that every parent who would bring their child to a daycare center – any day care – would be appalled to find out that one person was left in charge of 36 children.”

Taliah’s father, Troyel Brigham, in August 2016 told I-Team 8 that he hoped those responsible would learn from their actions.

Miracle and Blessings Daycare closed April 20, 2016.