Babysitter enters plea deal in infant's death

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A Petersburg woman pled guilty Wednesday in connection to the death of a toddler. Linda Grant tearfully pled to charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony child neglect after a child she was babysitting died.

Grant says she left 7-month-old Ke-Azia Drew Peterson for less than a minute, but when she came back, the baby had fallen off of a sofa and was not breathing. Panicking, she shook the baby hoping she would respond. Moments later, Ke-Azia was gone.Now she faces the possibility of three years in jail.

"My client is a mother, grandmother, church-going woman," said Grant's attorney Ned Mikula.  "(She has) a great reputation in the community of just a sweet woman everybody thinks the world of that has been taking care of children for forever and she feels morally responsible for what occurred."

Prosecutors say the shaking killed Ke-Azia but Grant's attorneys say the baby's only injuries were from the fall off the sofa. Grant originally was charged with murder but both sides agree Ke-Azia's death was an accident.

"A substantial break was afforded to the defendant," said Commonwealth's Attorney Cassandra Conover. "Given the circumstances and the trauma that was being suffered by the family and by her and acknowledging a lack of a record. However, we have a seven and a half month old Ke-Azia whose life was taken for no reason."

"This has been a very tragic accident," Mikula said. "A good woman that's right in the middle of it, a caretaker that believes in what she does and has loved children her entire life. There are no victors here, just a lot of tragedy."

Grant will be sentenced this summer. Her attorney says she's been caring for children for twenty years and has no prior record.

Grant's attorneys say she has not been babysitting anyone else's children since Ke-Azia's death.

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