San Diego day care provider James Nemeth will continue to be sentenced, a Superior Court judge decided Monday.
Nemeth originally pleaded guilty Jan. 20, 2016 to seven charges in the death of an infant in his care, though he later requested to withdraw the plea.
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.
At a status hearing Monday, Nemeth’s court-appointed Public Defender, Kevin Haughton, told Judge Joan Weber that he reviewed the discovery, transcripts and spoke with Nemeth, Nemeth’s wife and Nemeth’s former attorney, Al Arena.
Haughton determined there was no legal basis for the Judge to allow Nemeth to withdraw his guilty plea.
Parents of local toddler killed in day care say day care regulations must be tightened to protect children. "The system is broken." #nbc7— Paul Krueger (@pkruegernbcsd) January 20, 2016
In court, Nemeth interrupted his own attorney several times, at one point saying he “didn’t have access” to his own discovery.
When the bailiff told Nemeth he was speaking out of turn, Nemeth replied, “I’ve been letting you guys talk for a year and a half.”
The Deputy District Attorney, Nicole Rooney, said she spoke with Arena and also reviewed phone calls that Nemeth made to his wife from jail, in January. Rooney said the transcripts revealed that Nemeth understood what his plea deal entailed.
After the hearing, Michael Oliver, the infant’s father, spoke to NBC 7 Investigates.
“I’m just glad justice has come. He (Nemeth) can’t escape it," 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.
Nemeth faces 29 years in prison when sentence on April 1, 2016.