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Father upset about proposed plea agreement in newborn son's 2017 death

Daycare provider Jessica Moss was charged with Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Death
Posted at 3:24 PM, Dec 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-12 18:15:21-05

INDIANAPOLIS—A grieving father is raising concerns about a proposed plea agreement that would allow his newborn son's daycare provider to serve one year home detention.

2-month-old Connor Collins died May 26, 2017 after he was found not breathing at an unlicensed daycare in Tipton County.

The daycare provider, Jessica Moss, was criminally charged in 2017 with Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Death.

Prosecutors say Moss placed Connor in his crib face down, which is not safe for a newborn.

Connor Collins, 2 months, died May 26, 2017 after he was found not breathing at an unlicensed daycare in Tipton County.

“He just had the biggest smile,” said Connor’s father Brandon Collins. “No matter what he was doing, he was smiling.”

Brandon Collins misses his son, Connor.

Brandon now lives in Tennessee but says it’s hard to move on with his life because the criminal case against Moss has been pending for six and a half years.

"The court case is there waiting,” said Collins. “It's like OK well we made it through this wave of grief, what's next. Then there's always the court case next.”

Court records say Connor died of positional asphyxia, which means his body was positioned in a way he could not breathe.

Connor Collins, 2 months, died May 26, 2017 after he was found not breathing at an unlicensed daycare in Tipton County.

An autopsy blamed “unsafe sleep conditions: placed face-down to sleep.”

The state said Moss was operating illegally, caring for 11 children without a license.

PREVIOUS | State orders illegal day care to stop operating

A proposed plea agreement obtained by WRTV Investigates says Moss could plead to a low-level felony— Reckless Supervision.

The proposed sentence under the plea agreement for Reckless Supervision, a Level 6 felony, is one year home detention.

By comparison, a Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Death charge, a Level 1 felony, would carry a sentence of 20 to 50 years in prison.

"It's like they're saying yeah, she did something wrong, but they're completely forgetting about the fact that she made my son die,” said Brandon Collins. “We've been through this for what? To not go to trial? It doesn't make sense."

WRTV Investigates did some checking and found statewide, only 1 percent of criminal cases are typically resolved through a jury or bench trial.

The vast majority of criminal cases are wrapped up with plea agreements like the one facing Jessica Moss.

RELATED | Few felony cases go to jury trial, records show

Brandon Collins said he doesn’t necessarily want Jessica Moss to spend time in jail or prison.

“I would be OK with a very long-term house arrest sentence,” said Collins. “Definitely more than a year. I just want awareness to be brought to the justice system. They've got people in jail for a little bit of weed for a lot longer time than this woman."

Brandon Collins also wants to raise awareness about safe sleep, something licensed childcare providers are required to get training on.

Babies should be placed on their backs in a crib with no bumpers, blankets or stuffed animals.

“I want awareness to be brought for proper sleeping position for babies,” said Collins. “Connor never should have been laid down like that, and she knew that. "

A Change of Plea hearing is scheduled for this Friday December 15.

At that time a judge can decide whether to accept the agreement or not.

"If a plea agreement is reached, it will be submitted to the court on Dec 15 at 9am,’ said Tipton County prosecutor Jay Rich said in an email to WRTV. “The document you attached is a proposed resolution, but a plea has not been reached yet. This is a pending case at this point, so I can't comment further at this time."

WRTV Investigates reached out to an attorney or Jessica Moss, and we have not heard back.