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Mother, daughter return to court for sentencing

JONESBORO — A mother and daughter convicted last month in the death of a toddler left inside their day care van return to court Tuesday for sentencing.

Jazmin Green, 2, died in June 2011 after spending the afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese with seven other kids from Magnificent Marlo’s Early Learning Center. Green had stayed at the center since birth with her older brother while their mother worked.

Owner Marlo Fallings and her daughter, Quantabia Hopkins, were charged with murder in the child’s death but were convicted last month on lesser charges.

Fallings, who wasn’t on the property when the van returned, was convicted of misdemeanor reckless conduct. She faces a maximum of 12 months in jail and a minimum probated sentence.

Hopkins was found guilty on the more serious charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless conduct and felony contributing to the deprivation of a minor. She faces more than 10 years in prison, said Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Deah Warren.

Warren argued during her April closing statement that their reckless disregard for Green’s safety caused her death.

“It was 93 degrees that day,” Warren told jurors. “It was 12:26 p.m. when they got back and 3:42 p.m. when they called 911. It wasn’t 15 minutes, it wasn’t 30 minutes, it wasn’t an hour, two hours.

“It was three hours that Jazmin Green sat in that day care van at Magnificent Marlo’s Early Learning Center, enclosed and alone,” she continued. “Trapped. And it only got hotter and hotter and hotter and hotter and then she died.”

Warren also pointed out that Hopkins needed only to count to eight to ensure Green made it off the van safely.

“You don’t even need to take off your shoes to count to eight,” she said. “I guess we can count our blessings it was just one child who died that day.”

Attorney Andre Johnson defended Fallings and drove home the point that she wasn’t at the center when the van returned.

“This was an accident,” he said during his closing statement. “Two witnesses said Marlo Fallings wasn’t even there. She can’t have left Jazmin Green in the van if she wasn’t there.”

Hopkins was represented by co-counsels Bruce Harvey and Rudjard Hayes. During his closing, Harvey said the women were “wonderful teachers.”

“It is unimaginable that Ms. Hopkins in any form or fashion wished any child any harm of any kind,” he said.