Quantabia Hopkins, at left, and her mother, Marlo Fallings, as they listen to the 911 call made the day a child in their care was left in a van and died. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
JONESBORO — A mother and daughter facing charges in the 2011 death of a toddler in their care visibly reacted to hearing a 911 call played for jurors Wednesday afternoon.
Marlo Fallings bent her head completely over the defense table and her daughter, Quantabia Hopkins closed her eyes as they listened to the call during their murder trial. Fallings, 44, owned Marlo’s Magnificent Early Learning Center in Jonesboro, which was closed by the state a month after the death, and Hopkins, 26, worked there, according to testimony.
The pair are accused of causing the death of Jazmin Green, 2. Green and her brother were in the care of the center, said their mother, April McAlister, Wednesday morning.
Warrants allege Hopkins drove Green and seven other kids in the day care’s van to Chuck E. Cheese in Fayetteville June 20, 2011. The van returned between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., and seven kids were taken inside for a nap, said witnesses. About an hour later, the children woke and Hopkins realized Green was not among them, according to police.
Hopkins checked the van and found Green unresponsive and still strapped in her car seat in the most rear seat on the driver’s side, the warrants allege.
Hopkins allegedly told police she carried the child inside and Fallings attempted CPR and called 911 at 3:42 p.m, according to testimony Wednesday. The child was taken to Southern Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 4:43 p.m.
Prosecutor Deah Warren played the 911 call for jurors Wednesday and the caller can be heard telling the dispatcher, “One of the teachers left a kid on a van.” The dispatcher asked several times, “Is she breathing?,” a question relayed from the caller to people in the background.
Clayton County police Lt. Phillip Bailey took the stand and testified about going to the day care center and finding one of the workers attempting CPR on the child inside the center.
The center was cited three months prior to the death for a similar violation, although no child was reported hurt, records show. The staff attended a training session offered by Bright from the Start weeks later that included a review of requirements for transportation and supervision of children and taking children on field trips. Bright from the Start is the state agency governing child care and early education centers.
After Green’s death, the state investigated again and pulled the center’s license. The report alleged the center violated 10 rules governing the operation of day care facilities and specifically puts the blame for the child’s death on the staff’s failure to abide by those rules.
Fallings’ younger daughter, who was 16 at the time of the death, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges related to the death in Clayton County Juvenile Court and was sentenced to probation. Chief Judge Steve Teske also ordered her to create a memorial to the child — a quilt on display in the lobby of Clayton County Juvenile Justice Center.