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More than a year and a half after a baby died at an unlicensed daycare in Springfield, the attorney representing the babysitter was back in court Friday, asking the judge to push back a trial date.
Deborah Lundstrom, 49, is charged with involuntary manslaughter as well as nine counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of operating a child care facility without a license.
According to police, Lundstrom left her home for about 12 minutes on March 2, 2022, leaving nine children under the age of 3 unsupervised. Before leaving, Lundstrom allegedly placed the baby in a car seat. When Lundstrom returned home, she allegedly discovered the infant was not breathing and called 911.
The medical examiner believes the baby died of asphyxiation and that it’s possible the car seat chest clip inhibited the baby’s breathing. He was eight months old.
Lundstrom was not at the motion hearing Friday.
Lundstrom’s attorney, Erica Mynarich, asked Greene County Judge Todd Myers to reschedule the upcoming jury trial from November to sometime early in 2024.
Mynarich said she’s finally found a potential expert witness — a New Hampshire-based forensic pathologist who specializes in cases involving children in car seats. Mynarich said she is not sure yet if she will use this person as a witness in Lundstrom’s trial.
Mynarich said she also learned of another potential witness who lives in Alabama who she might want to use.
“Some of your requests sound like requests you made in May,” the judge told Mynarich. “The arraignment took place in April of 2022. We are a year and a half later.
“That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable time to get to trial,” Myers said.
Myers declined to reschedule Lundstrom’s jury trial.
Instead, Myers told Mynarich she has until Oct. 6 to decide if she plans to call the expert witness or not.
“That will have a great impact on if I will continue the trial,” Myers said.
As it stands, a pretrial conference is set for Nov. 2. The jury trial, which is expected to last about five days, is set to begin Nov. 6.
Did parents know Lundstrom was caring for so many babies?
Lundstrom had been operating an unlicensed child-care service out of her residence on the 2800 block of N. Washington Ave., in Springfield.
A mother of one of the other children who was at the daycare that day spoke with the Springfield Daily Citizen last year.
Savannah Banks said she did not know the identity of the baby who died. Banks said she was only allowed inside Lundstrom’s home a few times, and she had no idea Lundstrom was caring for so many children.
“We weren’t allowed to come inside. The brief walk-through that we did at the very beginning was just to kind of give us an idea of what her house looked like, to let us know that it was safe and clean,” Banks said in 2022. “And from that point on, she never let anybody inside. She had the baby gate in the front, and she always met us right there at the door.”
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, not allowing parents inside a child-care facility became a fairly common practice, especially at licensed child care providers.
Banks said Lundstrom charged her $175 per week from February to August of 2021. In August, Lundstrom raised the rate to $200 per week.
Banks said her son always came home happy and clean. But over time, Banks and her son’s father became concerned that Lundstrom didn’t seem to be providing any sort of educational activities or potty training. They were planning to approach Lundstrom with their concerns at the time the 8-month-old child died at Lundstrom’s house.
“No wonder she couldn’t do any educational training,” Banks had said. “She was watching too many children. There’s no way.”