SJ day care operators charged with toddler drownings make 1st court appearance

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Thursday, December 7, 2023
SJ day care owners charged with toddler drownings appear in court
The owners of San Jose's Happy Happy Daycare who are charged with two 1-year-old drownings made their first court appearance on Wednesday.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- New developments now in the case of toddlers who drowned in a pool at a San Jose daycare.

The owners of that daycare Tuesday made their first court appearance.

A family member of one of the victims is sharing the loss.

"They trusted these people, they not only were responsible for these children, they were being paid for it," said one woman who as the court appearance Wednesday. She did not give her name but said she is the grandmother of Payton Cobb.

Cobb and Lilian Hannan, who was also a 1-year-old, both drowned on Oct. 2 in a backyard pool at a San Jose at-home daycare.

RELATED: 1-year-old girls ID'd as children who drowned in San Jose day care pool, coroner says

One other child was also found in the pool and survived.

"Nobody sends kids out into the backyard - three toddlers - to play by themselves," the grandmother said.

Those defendants are Nina Fathizadeh and her mother Shahin Gheblehshenas, both owners of the daycare.

The Santa Clara District Attorney's Office said Gheblehshenas went to another unlicensed daycare that day.

She left four children with Fathizadeh.

According to the investigation report, Gheblehshenas's husband propped open the pool gate with a clothes hanging rack and did not close it.

RELATED: San Jose day care shut down after 1-year-old children drown in pool

While Fathizadeh was making breakfast, she left one child in a crib and three others in the backyard area unsupervised.

Investigators said that five minutes later, she discovered one of the children floating in the pool.

She performed CPR. Her brother found the two other children floating unconscious in the pool's deep end.

"The defendants had one job most important, above all, which was to return them to their parents safely," said O'Bryan Kenney, "They did not do that."

Both women were charged with felony child endangerment.

Wednesday, the prosecutor added seven other misdemeanors charges separate from the charges filed on Oct. 2.

RELATED: Co-owners of San Jose's Happy Happy Daycare arrested, charged in drowning deaths of 2 toddlers

Deputy District Attorney O'Brian Kenney did not elaborate more on the circumstances surrounding those new charges.

Their arraignment was pushed because a translator was not available.

Neither of the women or their attorneys wanted to comment following their appearance.

Legal analyst Steven Clark said the defense will have its work cut out for them.

"I think it's going to be important for the defense to start focusing on what notice that these two defendants have about the possibility of that gate being propped open and having those children have access to a pool, so close to a daycare," Clark said.

The two women remain on bail, out of custody. The next court appearance is set for Dec. 28.

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