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.