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Pella Caretaker Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter

Posted: Sunday, January 31st, 2016 at 5:55 am
Author: KNIA/KRLS News - Andrew Schneider


A Pella woman has been arrested for the death of infant Amelia Smith.

On Thursday, Valerie Lynn Wackerly, 32, pled guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter, a class D felony, in Marion County District Court.

Pella Police Chief Robert Bokinsky tells KNIA/KRLS News Smith was a 17 month old child left in the care of Wackerly. Bokinsky says last June, Wackerly was negligent in caring for the infant.

“The child was a placed in a car seat for a nap, which there are explicit warnings on the car seat not to do that,” Bokinsky says. “The child was not properly restrained in the car seat, which allowed the child to slide downward and led to the straps and cross member on the car seat–those that were properly affixed, to strangle Amelia Smith.”

According to police, Wackerly left the daycare, and upon her return, checked on and found Amelia Smith unresponsive. Smith died at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines on June 12th, 2015. Bokinsky says the eventual seven-month investigation followed the initial response of emergency crews.

“This call came out initially as an ambulance call, and we merely responded to assist the ambulance,” he says. “However, en route we learned there was CPR in progress, and then upon arrival that’s when the full scope of the situation was revealed to us.”

After the investigation held in conjunction with Iowa DCI and consultation with the Marion County Attorney’s Office, Pella Police determined that criminal charges against Wackerly were appropriate.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled on April 5th.