Subscribe for 33¢ / day

WATERLOO — A Waterloo woman pleaded guilty to charges in the investigation into the death of a toddler at her in-home day care in 2015.

Amy Lynn Hangartner, 43, wiped tears from her eyes Monday as she entered Alford pleas — not admitting guilt but agreeing she would likely be convicted if the case went to trial — to charges of felony neglect of a dependent person and misdemeanor child endangerment.

The neglect charge carries a 10-year maximum, and the endangerment charge is punishable up to two years in jail.

Under the plea arrangement, Hangartner will serve 90 days in a work release facility for the endangerment charge.

Black Hawk County Attorney Brian Williams said the defense plans to seek a deferred judgment that would remove the neglect charge from Hangartner’s record if she completes probation. But he said prosecutors will challenge the request and seek a suspended sentence that will keep the record intact with two to five years of probation for the neglect charge.

Sentencing will be at a later date.

As part of the plea, a charge of child endangerment causing death — a felony with a 50-year prison sentence — will be dropped.

Authorities allege Hangarter was running an unlicensed day care at her Bertch Avenue home June 17, 2015, when 18-month-old Brody Harrelson was found unresponsive and later died. Court records allege Brody had been placed in an infant car seat and left in a second-floor closet to nap for about two hours.

The charges allege Hargartner recklessly exposed the child to a hazard and deprived him of supervision appropriate for his age.

Hangartner is also the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit filed in June 2017 by Brody’s parents.

The suit alleges the house contained 11 children — including at least one special needs child — at the time, and Hangartner was the only adult. She placed Brody in the child seat, fastened the buckle across his chest and left him in a walk-in closet with the light off and the door slightly ajar at about 1 p.m.

A teenager checked on him at 3:40 p.m. and found him discolored and unconscious, according to the lawsuit.

Trial in the civil suit is tentatively set for December.


Police and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Courier

Load comments