TWIN FALLS — A former Kimberly day care owner was sentenced June 17 to serve two days in jail after a toddler was found sleeping in her driveway.
Brandi Olsen, 28, was charged with one count of felony injury to a child in September 2018. A two-day trial for Olsen held in late April ended with the jury finding Olsen not guilty of the felony charge, but guilty of a misdemeanor.
Fifth District Judge Roger B. Harris sentenced her June 17 to 180 days in the county jail, with 178 days suspended. She must complete 100 hours of community service within 120 days, and was placed on supervised probation for two years.
Deputy prosecutor Kyle Willmore asked for 170 days suspended, with Olsen spending those 10 days on a work detail.
Willmore argued the defense kept referring to Olsen’s behavior as “an accident.” He continued, “This was no accident. This is a crime. She blatantly ignored her duties to those children.”
Olsen’s attorney, Laurel McCord, argued she did not see jail as an appropriate punishment for Olsen. Numerous letters were presented by Olsen’s co-workers at Hobby Lobby, where she has worked since September 2018, and other friends. They cited Olsen as reliable, dependable, having strength of character and love for her three children.
Olsen’s parents, Roberta and Val Belnap, each wrote letters of support as well. They asked the judge for leniency, for the sake of her children.
“Time in jail for Brandi will put my grandchildren at risk,” Olsen’s mother wrote. “It is my fervent hope that as you sentence my daughter, you will recognize that she is a decent and caring person.”
Val Belnap wrote, “I believe that a harsh sentence would be a disservice to her children, her employer and to her community in general.”
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“My client is ready to get this behind her,” McCord said.
Olsen herself made no statement before Harris gave his reasons for the sentence.
During the April trial, Harris said, “I, too, heard a lot of things that were troubling.”
He reprimanded Olsen for inconsistent testimony at that trial, and for deliberately locking herself in her bedroom with headphones on while she should have been watching the children in her care.
But, Harris said, “I don’t see you as a long-term threat to society.”
With the loss of her day care license, though, he said, “You have to find something to do with your life.”
Sunset Child Care was a 24-hour day care center. The operation’s license was revoked in August 2018, by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare after Kimberly-Hansen Police found violations of health and fire standards, as well as a lack of supervision.
In addition to police finding the 2-year-old sleeping alone outside on Sunset Lane at about 10:45 p.m, other children — a mix of child care clients and Olsen’s own children — were discovered to be unsupervised inside the house.
Harris ordered Olsen to report to the Twin Falls County Jail by 9:30 p.m. on Friday to stay for two days. “It’s important that you see what it’s like in jail,” he said.