The South San Francisco foster mom accused of burning her then-20-month-old ward with bleach-soaked diapers pleaded no contest Friday to misdemeanor child endangerment.
The crime carries up to a year in jail but the actual amount Patricia Anne Moore, 68, faces when sentenced Sept. 24 was not immediately available.
The negotiated settlement came more than two years after a judge dismissed the original case against Moore for lack of evidence. That turn of events in May 2011 surprised prosecutors who last fall took the case back to a criminal grand jury who returned an indictment on felony charges of willful cruelty to a child and infliction of injury on a child. The indictment sidestepped a preliminary hearing which is the stage at which Judge Richard Livermore declined to hold Moore to answer.
District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said refiling the case and convening the grand jury were still worth the effort even if the case settled for a lesser charge.
“We are still holding her accountable,” Wagstaffe said, adding that he understands Moore has a lot of remorse.
Defense attorney May Mar could not be reached for comment.
However, Wagstaffe said Mar brought his office new information about Moore’s relationship to the child’s family and where facts of the case could be proven.
“This is a reasonable outcome based on what I can see,” Wagstaffe said.
The prosecution’s plea offer was set to expire Friday if Moore had not accepted.
The endangerment charge means a person is accused of acting negligently in a way that is likely to result in physical injury or death rather than acting more knowingly, such as a deliberate blow.
South San Francisco police first arrested Moore in August 2010 after hospital staff tending to the toddler alerted authorities that the child had first- and second-degree burns on her buttocks. According to prosecutors, Moore later told authorities she used bleach-soaked diapers to clean the child who soiled herself quite often. After Moore’s adult daughter brought the girl to the South San Francisco Kaiser Medical Center for care, doctors allegedly noted the burns were in a waffle pattern like that of diaper fabric. Moore allegedly also could not explain why, if the girl had been bathed, she didn’t have burns on other parts of her body that would have been submerged, such as her legs.
Moore remains free from custody on $50,000 bail.
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