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Van Nuys Woman Charged in Child's Death at Day Care Pleads Not Guilty

The death occurred on Feb. 1, 2012 in Burbank.

The owner of a Burbank day care center and one of her employees pleaded not guilty today to felony charges stemming from the death of an 11-month-old boy in their care.

The center's owner, Milena Nikodijevic, 51, of Burbank, and Wendy Roxana Oropeza, 21, of Van Nuys, are charged with one count each of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse.

The case stems from the Feb. 1, 2012, death of an 11-month-old boy at Nikodijevic's licensed in-home day care facility, Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars, in the 200 block of Santa Anita Avenue. Oropeza allegedly improperly secured the boy inside another child's car seat.

The infant, identified in court papers only as "Adam D.," was asphyxiated by the chest strap after falling asleep in the car seat while at the center, according to the prosecution. Nikodijevic is also accused of having three times the number of children under the age of 2 in her care than allowed by her license, even though she previously had been cited for a similar offense.

The baby was pronounced dead at St. Joseph's Medical Center after emergency medical staff unsuccessfully tried to revive the infant, who had been found in "breathing distress" at the day care facility.

The women, who were arrested March 5 and then freed on $100,000 bail, face up to seven years in state prison if convicted, according to the District Attorney's Office.

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