The owner of a Denton home-based child-care center where a baby was found unconscious and later died was sentenced to 22 months probation today for giving police false information during the incident.
Debra Turney, 50, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of giving a false report to a police officer and was ordered to pay a fine of $800 and required to do 50 hours of community service.
As part of her probation, Turney will not be allowed to engage in any child care except for the children of relatives.
Neither Turney nor Earl Dobson of Denton, her attorney, could be reached today for comment.
Last year, Turney gave an inaccurate report to investigators on the number of children in her day care, 2 Kool 4 School Kids Club, according to Denton County criminal court records.
On Jan. 7, 2009, one of Turney's employees called for help when she realized that 4-month-old Sophia Worsham was unconscious and not asleep. A few hours later, the baby was pronounced dead at a Denton hospital.
The Tarrant County medical examiner's office ruled the manner of her death as undetermined and gave the cause of death as sudden unexplained infant death.
Authorities reported finding 30 children at the home in the 2200 block of Palomino Court in Denton. State law allows only 12 children at home-based centers. Authorities did not report the number Turney gave to officers.
In March 2009, police arrested Turney on suspicion of endangering a child, a state jail felony. Overcrowding was one reason police arrested Turney, police have said.
But a Denton County grand jury indicted her on the false information misdemeanor charge.
State investigators reported that the center had up to 35 children at times. Authorities also found that medical records had not been updated and that no background check had been performed on one person in the house.
The day care was closed Jan. 7, 2009, and Turney voluntarily gave up her license, her attorney and police have said.
DOMINGO RAMIREZ JR., 817-390-7763