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."
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.
2nd District Court Judge Jeff Brudie thanked the jurors and told Hodges that her bond—$50,000—would now be released due to the verdict.
Following a full week of emotional testimony, a jury has cleared an Idaho woman, finding her innocent of murder in connection with the death of a two-year-old girl that was in her care.