Natasha Hodges, 31, broke into tears Wednesday in a Lewiston courtroom when the jury acquitted her of the charges. Hodges, a Lewiston day care provider, was arrested in 2013 in connection with the August 2012 of the toddler. According to prosecutors, Hodges had struck the child, causing abdominal bleeding that led to the child's death.
But this morning's Lewiston Tribune reports that a jury needed only two hours to come back with a verdict of not guilty.
"Her relief overcame her," defense attorney Richard M. Cuddihy told the Tribune. "Her knees buckled. She was so happy that the jury in the end saw what her side was, after two and a half years of not being able to tell her story. She's very relieved. She believes the truth came out."
The Tribune reports that some witnesses conceded that the child had a pre-existing condition—suffering from chronic pancreatitis, an ailment that was not diagnosed until after the child's death.