Correction: The judge who was presiding over this preliminary hearing was incorrectly identified as Circuit Judge Antoinette Williams in the original version of this story. The mistake was due to reporter error. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle apologizes for the error.
CHEYENNE – A Laramie County magistrate advanced a felony manslaughter charge Friday afternoon against a local day care owner over the death of an 8-month-old girl.
Kristina Croy, 37, of Cheyenne was first arrested on a warrant for voluntary manslaughter June 16 by the Cheyenne Police Department. She was later charged with a single count of reckless manslaughter in the death of an 8-month-old child that was at her day care.
If Croy is convicted, the maximum penalty for the charge is 20 years in prison.
The case centers on the events of Sept. 25, 2019, when CPD officers were dispatched to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center on a call for a dead infant. The 8-month-old, identified as M.G., was not breathing and lacked a pulse upon her arrival via ambulance.
After an autopsy, it was discovered M.G. died due to positional asphyxia, meaning she died because she couldn’t breath in the position she was placed in. Before she was taken to the hospital, M.G. was at Croy’s day care, “It’s a Child’s World They Matter,” located on the 3400 block of Foxcroft Road.
During Friday’s preliminary hearing, CPD Detective Allison Baca said she spoke with Croy that afternoon at CRMC after M.G. had been taken there. Croy told Baca that after feeding M.G., she had placed the infant in a “little sleeper,” a device that zips up to a child’s neck and restricts arm and leg movement.
“She didn’t want to call it a swaddle,” Baca said Friday.
According to Croy, M.G. was then placed on the floor of the living room, while Croy went back and forth between there and the kitchen, where she was cleaning and doing paperwork. Croy told Baca that she then found the infant face down without a pulse on the living room floor.
In the months after the event, Croy’s testimony varied on the precise number of times she checked on M.G., as well as the positions she found the infant in. Croy initially told Wyoming Department of Family Services licensing agent Michelle Tucker that M.G. had rolled over onto her stomach multiple times, but then later told Tucker that the infant couldn’t roll over independently.
Video cameras were also recording in both the living room and kitchen of the house, but the one in the living room had been pointed at the ceiling. Croy told Tucker that she had forgotten to fix the camera before the events of that day.
Big Horn County prosecuting attorney Marcia Bean, representing the state in the case, said Croy “ignored the obvious” through her use of the swaddling device, despite prior training on its risks. The Department of Family Services, which licenses the care centers, prohibits swaddling if an infant has developed the ability to roll over, and swaddling is only allowed with written authorization from both a licensed physician and the infant’s parent.
The swaddling device used on M.G. was recovered by officers and was listed as a size small, for 3- to 6-month-old infants weighing 13-18 pounds and was 22½ inches long. M.G. was 8 months old, 19 pounds and 25 inches long at the time of her death. On the swaddling device, it had instructions sewn into it stating “STOP swaddling when your baby shows signs of rolling over or breaking out of the swaddle.”
“We know the swaddle sack … was not appropriate for her age,” Bean said in her closing argument Friday.
Croy’s defense attorney, Dion Custis, called the manslaughter count “an extreme overcharge” based on the circumstances, arguing the prosecution had not been able to prove that Croy had been in “gross disregard” of child-care standards.
“(The charge) may be something else, but it certainly is not what she’s currently charged with,” Custis said during the hearing.
Ultimately, Magistrate Eang Man ruled there was probable cause to have the case bound over to Laramie County District Court. She also lowered Croy’s bond from $75,000 to $25,000 cash, with the provision that Croy, who has given up her business, could not care for any kids under the age of 5 if she makes bail.