San Diego

San Diego Day-Care Owner Guilty in Baby's Death

James Nemeth also admitted he abused, hit and choked his own children

San Diego day care provider James Nemeth pleaded guilty Wednesday to several charges in the death of an infant in his care.

Eleven-month-old Lou Oliver was alert when he was dropped off at the James Nemeth Family Childcare, on May 23, 2012, according to his mother, Cristina Oliver.

Just a few hours later, Lou’s mother got an alarming text message from Nemeth telling her to "come quickly, Lou did not wake up from his afternoon nap," Cristina told NBC 7 Investigates in a previous interview. 

Lou was rushed to Rady Children's Hospital by ambulance, but at 1:30 a.m. the next day, he was declared dead.

In court Wednesday, Nemeth entered guilty pleas to a total of seven serious charges with a 29-year-prison term attached, according to the plea deal. He must serve at least 85 percent of the term before he's eligible for parole, the prosecutor said.

Lou’s mother, Cristina, described the last four years as a nightmare and said, “it’s given us some relief that this person has finally confessed to what he’s done to our son.”

“It’s a step of somebody taking responsibility and that’s what we wanted,” Michael Oliver said. “Someone to be held responsible for the killing of our son.”

Nemeth and his attorney did not comment on the plea Wednesday.

In court, Nemeth also admitted he abused, hit and choked his own children. According to the prosecutor, hit them with a belt and punched one of his children in the stomach.

After learning these new details about Nemeth, Lou’s parents told NBC 7 Investigates they were shocked he was able to have his own day care license and they are going to work to fix a licensing system that they say is “broken.”

“We need better policies with file sharing and more information for parents so they are confident that day care providers can be trusted to take good care of children,” Michael Oliver said.

Last year, NBC 7 Investigates reported that before Lou's death, Nemeth had a lengthy history of serious violations, including allegations that he was physically rough with his own child. In November, Nemeth emailed a statement to NBC 7, saying in part: "I cared for Louis, he was an amazing child. I tried everything I could to save him and the fact I failed is something that will be with me forever."

NBC 7 Investigates also found it was very difficult for parents to review files on what happens to their children while in the care of individual day cares. After the stories aired,state lawmakers changed the way parents can access information about day cares in California, making the information available online, instead of only in person by appointment.

Click here to see the complete investigation.

UPDATE: Nemeth’s sentencing, scheduled for February 26, has been delayed. Nemeth submitted a request to withdraw his guilty plea and has requested a new attorney. A status conference is now scheduled for March 21.

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