DES MOINES – A Waterloo woman has pleaded guilty to reduced charges in connection with the death of a toddler she was adopting.
Authorities said 2-year-old Maximus Leonard-Hellum died in Des Moines after ingesting medication in June.
Amanda Roena Leonard-Hellum, 39, had been scheduled to plead Tuesday in Polk County District Court. But the court hearing was canceled after she waived her right to appear in court due to statewide courthouse precautions, and she entered a written plea in April.
In the plea, Leonard-Hellum admitted she recklessly exposed the child to danger by “leaving him in a place where he could access and consume medications.”
She had been charged with child endangerment causing death, which carries up to 50 years in prison upon conviction. As part of the arrangement, she pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of neglect of a dependent person, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Sentencing has been tentatively set for June, and she remains free until then.
Authorities said Maximus had taken pills in the backseat of a vehicle while Leonard-Hellum was driving from Waterloo to Des Moines to visit her boyfriend in June. She allegedly discovered what had happened when she arrived and decided against seeking medical help, instead opting to monitor him that night.
Police were called to the friend’s apartment in the morning and found the child dead.
Photos: Missing children in Iowa
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