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Ohio mom who left 1-year-old daughter alone to go on vacation pleads guilty to aggravated murder

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An Ohio mother who left her 16-month-old daughter home alone in a playpen for 10 days last summer while she went on vacation pleaded guilty on Thursday to aggravated murder.

Kristel Candelario, 32, also pleaded guilty to child endangerment as part of a plea deal with Cuyahoga County prosecutors, who agreed to dismiss two murder counts and a felonious assault charge. Candelario now faces a life term when she's sentenced March 18.

Authorities have said Candelario left her daughter, Jailyn, in their Cleveland home when she went on vacation to Detroit and Puerto Rico in June 2023. When she returned 10 days later, she found the girl was not breathing in the playpen and called 911. 

Emergency responders found the child was "extremely dehydrated" and pronounced her dead shortly after they arrived.

"It is unfathomable that a mother would leave her 16-month-old child alone without any supervision for 10 days to go on a vacation," Prosecutor Michael O'Malley said in a statement last summer.

"As parents, we are supposed to protect and care for our children," O'Malley added. "Imagining this child's suffering, during her last days of life alone, is truly horrifying and we will do everything in our power to seek justice on her behalf."

An autopsy by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office determined that the toddler had died of starvation and severe dehydration.

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