Attorney

Miami-Dade Daycare Worker Zobeida Gonzalez Takes Plea Deal in Toddler's Drowning Death

A Miami-Dade daycare worker charged in the death of a young boy who drowned on her watch pleaded guilty Thursday as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

Zobeida Gonzalez guilty to aggravated manslaughter of a child under the age of 18 in the December 2013 death of 3-year-old Jonathan Feliciano. Prosecutors dropped the other charge of child neglect.

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Feliciano, if I could give my life for Jonathan I would in a moment," Gonzalez said in a letter read by her attorney during Thursday's hearing.

Gonzalez was sentenced to a total of 33 days in jail and eight years of probation. Her sentence will begin on December 14 when she'll turn herself in. Prosecutors said the dates of the sentence are symbolic. The jail sentence happens on the anniversary of the child's death and during the holidays which Gonzalez will have to miss.

Feliciano died after he fell into Mayling Family Daycare swimming pool and drowned on December 22, 2013. Gonzalez was caring for the toddler at her daughter's daycare on Northwest 99th Street.

"Please know that in my heart I would never consciously do anything to hurt Jonathan," attorney Scott Egleston read from the letter.

Gonzalez claimed the child had gone missing and she spent almost a half an hour looking for him. Detectives said the child managed to slip through a fence around the pool and climbed in.

"We hope it helps to change the law and to change habits and the way people operate daycare facilities and we hope that the death of Jonathan is not in vain," prosecutor Santiago Aroca said.

"We certainly feel that's an equitable resolution. The facts and circumstances surrounding this case, it doesn't get more tragic than what happened in this case," Egleston said.

The Department of Children and Families had inspected the fence around the daycare's pool three times and deemed it safe. Gonzalez' daughter closed down the business immediately after the child's death.

The victim's family did not come to court, telling prosecutors they just couldn't physically be in the same room as Gonzalez.

Contact Us