RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Keishawn Whitfield was found guilty today for child neglect and involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors hope the trial sends a serious message to anyone who cares for children.
The prosecution says this is a victory for the mother of 13 month old Andrew Johnson. Four months ago, to the day, Keishawn Whitfield picked the toddler up at home, to take him to the Yellow Brick Road Daycare.
"She trusted Yellow Brick Road to take care of her child and they let her down," said Julie McConnell, Commonwealth's Attorney.
But the child never arrived inside. Prosecutors say, in a rush to relax, Whitfield didn't double-check the van where Andrew sat in his car seat for several hours in 84 degree weather.
"When someone says to the community I will care for your children, they have an even heightened response, I think even above a parent in many ways because you have sought out these children to take care of, kids just need to be the first priority," Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Langer said.
Andrews mother Anna took the stand, saying Andrew was in Yellow Brick Road's care for about 11 months.
"I already apologized. I can't take that back. It's a mistake that I made. I'm going to live with it for the rest of my life," said Keishawn Whitfield.
Police say when Whitfield reached the daycare on that fateful day in July, he unloaded Andrews diaper bag- he assumed, he dropped the toddler off too.
"Everybody knows it was an accident. I mean everybody knows that," Whitfield said.
The defense said Whitfield never intended to hurt Andrew. He loved his job. A Richmond police officer testified, when Whitfield pulled the baby out of the van 7 hours later, he started CPR. But it was too late.
"All I could do is apologize to her. It was a mistake. I can't take that back. If I could, I would. That's all I've got to say," Whitfield said.
January 8, Whitfield will be sentenced. He could see up to 15 years behind bars. His mother, Valerot Whitlow, who owned Yellow Brick Road Daycare, also faces criminal charges.