Rimma Shvartsman, the former day-care owner who caused the death of a toddler by forgetting him in her sweltering van last summer, was found not guilty this afternoon by a jury in Bucks County Court.
The jury of nine women and three men deliberated for 81/2 hours Friday and this morning before reaching the verdict in the July 1 death of 2-year-old Daniel Slutsky.
Shvartsman, 47, of Northampton, wept against her daughter's shoulder as the verdicts - on charges of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child - were read. Neither she nor her family members would comment as they left the courtroom, clinging to one another.
The child's parents, Gil and Lyudmila Slutsky, were not present for the verdict. Deputy District Attorney Robin Twombly said she had discussed the verdict with them by phone and that they did not wish to comment.
Jurors declined to speak to reporters as they filed out of the courthouse.
Shvartsman, 47, of Northampton, had admitted leaving the child strapped in a rear seat of her Toyota Sienna van. A neighbor of the Slutskys, she had driven him that morning to Fairy Tales, the day-care center she co-owned in Penndel, arriving around 9:15 a.m.
Seven hours later, she found Daniel, who had freed himself from his booster seat, unresponsive and brain-dead on the floor of the van.
Shvartsman's attorneys said that her lapse was involuntary and unforeseeable, the result of stress and sleeplessness after learning of a possible recurrence of her thyroid cancer.
"We feel relief at the jury's verdict, but other than that, our sorrow and remorse is relentless," said Michael Mustokoff, Shvartsman's lead defense attorney. "What we said to the jury was the truth; it just so happened that they found the way that they did."
Prosecutor Twombly countered that Shvartsman, as a child-care professional, never should have put herself in charge of a child while in such a fragile and distracted state.
"Obviously we disagree with the verdict," she said. "We thought that we had the evidence, that it fit the law, and in a similar situation with the same facts, we would charge in this case every time."