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Ohio mother who left toddler alone when she went on vacation is sentenced in child’s murder

Kristel Candelario, 32, left her 16-month-old daughter alone while she was gone for more than a week. The girl died.
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An Ohio woman whose toddler died after she left her alone for more than a week while she went on vacation was sentenced to life in prison without parole Monday, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor said.

Kristel Candelario, 32, pleaded guilty last month to aggravated murder and endangering children in connection with the death of her 16-month-old daughter, Jailyn, last year.

Candelario left for vacation June 6 and left Jailyn alone. She visited Detroit and Puerto Rico, the prosecutor’s office said.

When she returned on June 16, she found Jailyn dead and called police, authorities said.

Jailyn Calendario mom mother sentencing court legal law child death
Kristel Candelario in court in Cleveland on Monday.WKYV

Jailyn died of starvation and severe dehydration due to pediatric neglect, Dr. Elizabeth Mooney, the deputy Cuyahoga County medical examiner, said in court Monday. The manner was ruled homicide.

The child was extremely dehydrated and emaciated, weighing 13 pounds, 7 pounds less than in her last doctor's visit less than two months before, Mooney said.

Mooney, who conducted the autopsy, called Jailyn's death "one of the most tragic and unfortunate cases I’ve had in my career thus far." She said the child could have suffered for possibly a week.

In a statement Monday, prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley called Jailyn “a beautiful baby girl who was taken from this world due to her mother’s unimaginable selfishness.”

Candelario told the court Monday that “every day I ask forgiveness from God and from my daughter Jailyn.”

She also asked forgiveness from her other daughter and from her parents.

Jailyn Calendario.
Jailyn Candelario.via WKYC

Candelario’s attorney, Derek Smith, said that no one was trying to excuse her behavior but that Candelario was struggling emotionally and was overwhelmed as a single mother of two children.

Candelario had tried to harm herself earlier in 2023 and she had been placed on antidepressants, which she stopped taking without tapering down in dosage as required, which can cause side effects, Smith told the court. Candelario was "not thinking clearly," he said.

“I am not trying to justify my actions, but nobody knew how much I was suffering and what I was going through,” Candelario said through an interpreter.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Anna Faraglia told the court Monday that Candelario had left Jailyn alone for two days immediately before she left on vacation.

"The thought of this child dying every day while she's having fun — humanity can't stomach that," Faraglia said. "And those are the actions that need to be punished. She abandoned her daughter and left her for dead."

In sentencing Candelario, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Brendan Sheehan noted that the police and the medical professionals involved called it one of the most horrific cases they’d ever seen.

“It stunned people across this world, because it defies one of the basic human responsibilities,” Sheehan said. He called it “the ultimate act of betrayal.”