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North Dakota woman who ran unlicensed day care gets nearly 19 years in prison after baby's death ruled a homicide

A judge sentenced a North Dakota woman Tuesday to about 19 years in prison in connection with the death of a baby and injury of another boy that authorities tied to her unlicensed home child care center.

Patricia Wick, of Jamestown, was charged last year. She pleaded guilty in January to felony charges of murder and child abuse and a misdemeanor of operating an unlicensed day care center in Carrington.

Patricia Wick Foster County State Attorney

On the murder charge, state District Judge James Hovey sentenced Wick to 40 years in prison, with 20 years suspended and credit for over a year already served. She must register as an offender against children and serve 10 years' supervised probation. The judge also imposed lesser, concurrent sentences on the other charges. Wick must also pay $810 in court fees on the child abuse charge.

Wick's public defender, Samuel Gereszek, and Foster County State's Attorney Kara Brinster did not immediately return phone messages left Wednesday.

Prosecutors alleged Wick caused head and neck injuries to the 5-month-old boy, according to Carrington Police Chief Christopher Bittmann's affidavit. On Sept. 26, 2022, police officers and EMTs and responded to the in-home day care, owned by Wick, on a report of an unresponsive five-month-old baby boy, KXNET reported. The baby was airlifted to a Fargo hospital but later succumbed to his injuries.

An autopsy found the infant died from "complications of blunt force head and neck trauma," with his death determined a homicide, according to the affidavit.

Wick told authorities she "may have put (the baby) down too hard," was not gentle with him and was frustrated with him that day, according to the affidavit.

Wick later said she heard the baby coughing and saw he was vomiting, Valley News Live reported, citing court documents. Wick called the child's mother and called 911, "and that was it," Wick told investigators, according to the outlet.

A GoFundMe set up for the baby's family raised more than $20,000.

Authorities also allege in court documents that the other child broke his arm while in Wick's care after falling off a swing in her backyard and that she didn't immediately report the injury to his parents.

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