Video: Prosecutors Walk Fine Line In Choosing Charges
NORTHEAST, Miss. (WCBI)- The Oktibbeha County District Attorney’s Office won’t pursue any felony charges against Dianna Covin. The daycare worker admitted to giving two small children in her care a powerful muscle relaxer to “keep them quiet.” Both children were sent to the hospital. Covin was fired immediately for violating daycare rules. Investigators charged her with felony child abuse, but that’s where the law gets sticky.
“They most likely would not receive a conviction under the previous law because it is limiting. So I know if I’m a parent, I would be pushing them to go forward right now and even if we can’t get a conviction, make their life miserable! But that’s not the intent or purpose of the law and the prosecutors have to make tough calls like that,” said Attorney William Starks.
Starks also says charging Covin with aggravated assault would have been difficult.
“You have to have that serious bodily injury component and unfortunately, in this case, the prosecution felt they couldn’t meet that burden that’s why they chose not to prosecute, is my understanding,” said Starks.
Medical records failed to prove the children suffered any serious bodily injury. Prosecutors working the case say there’s a fine line when it comes to proving someone meant to harm someone. Serious bodily harm can range from breaking someone’s skin, to broken bones or impairment of a bodily organ. Even so, residents are still torn on the case.
“Something!! Something should have been done. Hold her accountable for what she did because she knew it was wrong. That wasn’t her child to give that medication to,” said Milport, Alabama resident Leigh Watkins.
“I still can’t really see it. Unless it was a child that was already sick, maybe asthmatic or something was wrong with them and that caused them to die. Then you’ve got a problem,” said Columbus resident Hilbert Williams.
The potential sentence for felony child abuse is actually harsher than the potential penalty for aggravated assault. Charges for aggravated assault could land you 0 to 20 years in jail. Charges for child abuse: 10 to life.