Attempt to appeal former day care worker’s life sentence reveals prior abuse
Bear, Delaware: Last April, Dejoynay Ferguson pleaded guilty to murder by abuse in the first degree, six counts of child abuse in the first degree and two counts of child abuse in the second degree.
The charges came as a result of the death of 4-month-old Isabella Talton in September 2019.
On June 25, 2021, she was sentenced to life in prison. In Delaware, there is no possibility of parole for a life sentence.
At that time since Ferguson had plead as a part of a plea deal that saw the remaining charges dropped, much of the evidence and documents that could have been revealed to the public during a court case remained hidden.
Following the life sentence however, her attorney filed an appeal. It is those proceedings that have allowed more information into the public domain concerning this case.
On Friday, August 5, the Delaware Supreme Court upheld Ferguson's sentence of life in prison.
"[Ferguson] contends that the sentencing judge sentenced her for the sole purpose of retribution; that he sentenced her with a closed mind' that he was unwilling to consider the mitigation evidence and arguments she presented; and that her sentence violates her right to due process."
The mitigating evidence her attorney argued, was her age, her inexperience in such an environment, and mental health issues as she was evidently diagnosed as bi-polar following the sudden death of her father in 2016.
As a part of her plea, during sentencing, Ferguson admitted that she was "in way over [her] head" in the infant room where she worked at the Little People Child Development Center.
"Unfortunately," the court noted, "she turned to abuse to maintain control of the infant room. Beginning in June 2019 and continuing through September 2019, video surveillance from the daycare shows Ferguson smothering three children on 28 different days, sometimes multiple times a day, and physically abusing two additional children. Ferguson's conduct finally came to a head on September 5, 2019, when she suffocated I.T., a healthy four-month-old girl, to death."
Surveillance footage showed that it was "less than three hours after" Isabella had been dropped off at the daycare, that Ferguson placed a latex-gloved hand over her mouth and nose for approximately three minutes. A minute and a half of that time was after Isabella's body went limp.
Allegedly during an interview with a forensic psychologist Ferguson stated that she had been stressed out by the cries of the children that day and that after she had returned Isabela to her crib she "felt more relaxed... because she had been able to release her anger and resolve the source of stress."
Ferguson allegedly also disclosed to investigators that "she changed her method of suffocation over time to make it more effective."
"Almost 30 minutes later, when Ferguson realized that I.T. was unresponsive, she began to perform CPR on her and eventually called for help," court documents state.
Ultimately the court determined that the minimum possible sentence for the charges to which Ferguson had plead was 27 years and the maximum was life.
They determined that the judge chose life as the "smothering death occurred at the end of a pattern of smothering babies in order to get them to be still while changing their diapers."
"A sentence to the term of years would not fairly express the outrage of any society at the completely senseless killing of one of its infant children by someone entrusted to its care. It is, therefore, the judgement of the Court that the sentence on the count of murder in the first degree by abuse or neglect should be a life sentence," the court ruled.
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