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Boone County prosecutors have charged 56-year-old Sarah Brown of Columbia with first degree involuntary manslaughter (June 15, 2023 file mug shot courtesy of the Boone County Sheriff's Department website)

Jury in Columbia daycare operator’s involuntary manslaughter trial to be selected in Boone County

A Boone County judge has denied a change of venue request from a Columbia woman charged with involuntary manslaughter for the May suffocation death of a child in her daycare.

Authorities say 56-year-old Sarah Brown was allegedly operating an unlicensed and illegal daycare out of her home near Paris road, when the child died in her care. Brown’s attorney, Richard Hicks, says this case has received extensive media coverage from news media outlets in Columbia and Jefferson City. In his two-page motion, Counselor Hicks argues that a jury from outside mid-Missouri is necessary to procure a jury that can be fair and impartial.

Judge Harris has denied the motion for a change of venue, which means Brown’s jury will come from Boone County. Brown’s next court appearance is set for November 20.

The Columbia Police Department’s heavily-redacted four-page probable cause statement says Brown allegedly left the child for two-and-a-half hours in a crib in May with a loose unfitted blanket and pillow while being placed in a sleeping position that resulted in death by suffocation. Court documents say the child’s parents had given Brown instructions to have the child sleep on her back, due to being diagnosed recently with a viral lung infection that caused the child to cough and have difficulty breathing.

The probable cause statement says Brown ignored their instructions and placed the child on her stomach to sleep. Brown is also accused of lying to two Columbia police officers about finding the child on her back in the crib, not breathing. The court document says Brown was operating an unlicensed and illegal daycare out of the home.

Ms. Brown has pleaded not guilty in the case.

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