A Hall County magistrate found enough evidence Friday to send two day care workers to trial for child cruelty along with and the business owner accused of a criminal coverup.
Chief Magistrate Margaret Gregory ruled that evidence supported the arrest and the case can proceed to Superior Court.
Hall County sheriff investigators contend Tara Miller, 40, and Eddye Pittmon, 55, did not seek proper medical treatment for a 16-month-old boy who they say received second- and third-degree burns in their care in June.
Minnie “Sue” Dupree, the 66-year-old owner of the now-closed Discovering Basics, is charged with trying to influence testimony of other employees by intimidating them and asking them to destroy evidence, said Deputy Nicole Bailes, spokeswoman for the sheriff.
All three women are free on bail.
“They bound it over we expected that and we expect to win at trial when we put up character witnesses,” said Troy Millikan, the Gainesville lawyer representing Pittmon, who described the investigation as “guess work.”
The cause of the burn is still a matter of speculation and the defense has contended the child may have been burned before being brought to the day care.
Millikan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigators contend the boy, Damon Gaddis, was burned in a eight-minute time span around 10 a.m. on June 13 because a worker claimed they heard a cry about that time that may have come from the child.
Investigators said workers inspected the child after he arrived when cleaning him and didn’t see any burns; experts, however, indicated the time frame for the burns to manifest themselves could be longer, Millikan said.
The boy, Damon Gaddis, received second- and third-degree burns on his stomach and left leg on June 13 at the Cleveland Highway daycare, according to investigators.
The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning previously issued an emergency closure notice because its investigation found that children attending the program were “in imminent danger,” according to a news release from spokesman Reg Griffin. The daycare initially planned to appeal the closure, but withdrew the appeal.
Miller and Pittmon applied ointment to the wounds, which suggests both women knew the extent of the child’s injuries, Bailes said. Investigators are not contending Damon was burned intentionally.