Family outraged after no indictment in infant’s drowning death on first day of daycare

One local family is asking for justice after the death of their infant on her first day of daycare.
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 11:57 AM EST
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PERRY, Fla. (WCTV/Gray News) – A family in Florida is asking for justice after the death of their 2-month-old daughter on her first day of daycare.

According to WCTV, Jersi McNight was dropped off for her first day at Hugger Family Daycare, a state-licensed facility inside a home, on Aug. 9.

“We were recommended by tons of people,” said the baby’s mother, Martasha Robinson. “I just assumed she was in good care.”

Robinson said goodbye to her daughter just before 8 a.m.

Around 3:30 p.m., she received a hysterical call from the mother of another child there, saying something had happened to one of the children.

“My heart stopped,” Robinson said.

She didn’t realize how serious it was until an officer greeted her at the door.

Later she learned what state records insinuate: Jersi had allegedly been left unattended on a changing table and somehow scooted off, landing in a nearby mop bucket where the 2-month-old girl drowned.

“That alone — leaving her — is just negligence,” Robinson said.

A grand jury recently determined not to indict the daycare owner on criminal charges in a 10-8 decision, which has left the entire family reeling.

“I’m still in shock, hoping I heard it wrong. Maybe I just heard it wrong,” said Katrina Cook, the baby’s aunt.

“That’s just like taking a bucket of water and throwing it out in the yard, and when it’s dried up, it’s over with. My grandbaby was way more than a bucket of water,” said Walter Bishop, the baby’s great-grandfather.

The state attorney’s office had no comment on the case.

While the family may never know what exactly happened, what they do know is that Jersi is no longer with them, and the last place she was alive was inside that daycare.

The Perry Police Department declined to be interviewed for this story and requests for a copy of the incident report.

Police say despite that grand jury decision, the case is still open, under investigation and they are considering new evidence.

State records show the daycare had been cited as “non-compliant” on two different occasions, including a violation reported about five weeks before Jersi’s death.

That violation was for having seven children under 3 years old, which is more than allowed by Florida law.

Jersi’s parents said they weren’t aware of the violations until it was too late.

WCTV reached out to the daycare owner in person and over the phone. Whoever answered the phone hung up immediately.

Meanwhile, Jersi’s family waits, remembering their baby.

“I need some answers. I need some answers,” McKnight said. “She won’t be forgotten. Justice will be served.”

The family says they have also hired an attorney for a civil suit. They are still waiting on the headstone and slab to be placed on Jersi’s grave.

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