Mother danced as child died
22-year-old pleads guilty to manslaughter in girl's death
Left unfed 2-year-old alone in crib for weekend of partying
The Toronto Star, NICK PRON, COURTS BUREAU, Sep. 29, 2004.
A 22-year-old single mother who danced the weekend away, then watched movies at a friend's house, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, who was left at home alone.
Rescue crews found the tiny, lifeless body of Adrianna Dasilva lying face-down in her crib in a room that was "sweltering hot" at about 35C and reeked of vomit and cat urine, a court heard yesterday.
The diaper rash on Adrianna's body was so severe, prosecutor David Wright told the court, it was the equivalent of a second-degree burn.
Detectives estimated that the child, known among her relatives for her "non-stop smile," had been abandoned by her mother, Clara Dasilva, for about 33 hours at the Biggin Court apartment, in the Eglinton Ave. E. and Victoria Park area.
An autopsy showed she died of dehydration. Emergency crews found her empty bottle on the floor near the crib.
Dasilva sat expressionless in court next to her lawyer, Joseph Wilkinson, as Wright said Dasilva at first told detectives she had left her daughter with a babysitter named Kelly.
Detectives later learned "there was no Kelly," Wright said. "She was a fabrication."
The child's father, Mark Yetman, sat in the gallery clutching a framed photograph of his daughter, sobbing through much of the hearing in the Superior Court of Justice.
"I would rather she plead not guilty, try to fight the case in court, lose and then get a tougher sentence in the end," he said in a later interview.
A sentencing hearing will be held Jan. 17. Under the Criminal Code, a person can be imprisoned for life on a manslaughter conviction, but sentences are typically far less.
Yetman, 27, said he and Dasilva had not wanted a child when they first met. But after Adrianna was born in July, 2000, Yetman, a roofer, said he was "in love" with the baby, who was born three months premature.
There was no custody dispute when the couple split up two years later, he said. Dasilva got the baby because, Yetman said, "I thought that she was an excellent mother. But I guess I was wrong. I had absolutely no clue at all that she was leaving the child alone like that."
For the first 18 months of the child's life, it appeared she was being looked after, the court heard. She was getting regular medical care and had a babysitter, court was told.
But there were signs of trouble in early 2002. A babysitter noticed the severe diaper rash, Wright said.
And the last time Adrianna was seen by the family doctor was March 1, seven months before her death, according to the agreed statement of facts.
The babysitter told Dasilva about 10 times that the child "was not eating enough and was too skinny," Wright said.
The last time the babysitter saw the child was Thursday, Sept. 5, 2002, just before the weekend that Dasilva, then heavily in debt and being hounded by collection agencies, went out for a weekend of salsa dancing, Wright said.
On Friday night, she left Adrianna alone about seven hours while she danced the evening away with a male friend, first at the El Rancho on College St. until closing time, then across the street at the Plaza Flamingo, which stayed open an hour later.
Adrianna was left for nearly four hours Saturday night, when Dasilva returned to the El Rancho, the prosecutor said.
On Sunday morning, she went to work at 8:30 a.m., leaving Adrianna alone until returning home around 7:30 p.m.
A short time later, she went to the Left Bank, on Queen St. W., for a night of salsa dancing, asking friends to come out and party in some of 32 cellphone calls she made that evening.
After closing time, she told her two male companions her purse and keys were stolen and she couldn't get into her apartment.
So the trio went out for pizza, then back to the apartment of one of the men, where they watched movies such as Winnie the Pooh, Wright said.
Dasilva didn't go to work that Monday and eventually went home about 6 p.m., got the landlord to let her in and then found the body of her child in the crib, left alone all that time.
She then took off her dancing pants, put on a pair of track pants and called 911.
The end of the world must be near with stuff like this going on. How could someone do something like that to their own child? Hell to any child. Well Merry Christmas as usual I thought I would share this uplifting story.