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Calif. Day Care Operator Sentenced

October 1, 1999

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A British woman who ran a day care center in her San Diego home was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison for fatally shaking a 13-month-old boy and slamming his head on the floor.

Manjit Basuta, 44, was convicted in June of killing Oliver Smith and got the maximum under a new state law covering fatal assaults on children.

Prosecutors said she killed the child in 1998 because he didn’t come when she called him for a diaper change.

``She never showed remorse for the victim or his family,″ Superior Court Judge William Kennedy said.

Mrs. Basuta sobbed and her shoulders heaved as the judge imposed the sentence.

Audrey Amaral, the boy’s mother, carried a photo of the boy with her when she addressed the court before sentencing. She said she will always mourn her son and the man he will never become.

``If she spends the rest of her life in prison, it’s nothing compared to the death sentence that my son Oliver has been given,″ she said of Mrs. Basuta.

The only eyewitness to the killing was Cristina Carillo, Mrs. Basuta’s housekeeper, who testified that Mrs. Basuta was angry at the boy because he kept watching television when she called him.

She said Mrs. Basuta grabbed the boy by his arms and shook him violently. Ms. Carillo testified that Mrs. Basuta then pushed the boy down on the floor, striking his head.

As Mrs. Basuta changed the boy’s diaper, his head fell back, his eyes fluttered and his skin turned blue, Ms. Carillo said.

When he lost consciousness, Ms. Carillo telephoned for emergency help. Oliver died the next day in the hospital from a blood clot in his skull and swelling of the brain.

Ms. Carrillo, a Guatemalan living in the United States illegally, said she initially told authorities the boy fell because Mrs. Basuta threatened to have her deported if she told the truth.

Mrs. Basuta did not testify but said later that the housekeeper had lied. Mrs. Basuta insisted that Oliver was injured when another child pushed him and he hit his head on a brick patio.

Mrs. Basuta is a native of India who holds British citizenship.

Since Oliver’s death, his mother has pushed for the passage of Oliver’s Law, which calls for stricter state regulations for day care centers and better training for child care providers.

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