MINNEAPOLIS - A Minneapolis day care provider accused of hanging a toddler in her home pleaded guilty to attempted murder, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday, Feb. 15.
Nataliia Karia, 43, also pleaded guilty to third-degree assault of the 16-month-old boy and two counts of criminal vehicular operation for hitting a pedestrian, another driver and a bicyclist as she fled in her minivan. Evidence in the case will be presented to Hennepin County District Judge Jay Quam on April 27 to determine sentencing, which could be up to 15 years in prison.
The child and the hit-and-run victim survived. The bicyclist survived with unspecified injuries.
In court Thursday afternoon, Karia spoke through a Russian interpreter about the events that occurred on Nov. 18, 2016, at her licensed home day care in the 2700 block of Humboldt Avenue South in an Uptown neighborhood two blocks from Lake of the Isles.
Karia told the court she didn't have a clear memory of what happened that morning after she took the toddler into the basement with her to look for clothes for her younger daughter, according to the Hennepin County attorney's office.
Prosecutors showed Karia photos taken in the basement and reminded her that she'd stated during a psychological evaluation that she'd been in the basement looking for tights for her daughter and that later she remembered the toddler making choking sounds and hanging from a noose made out of those tights.
According to the criminal complaint, Karia told a father who was dropping off his young son that she couldn't take it anymore and to come see what she had done. He walked toward the basement and heard crying, went down the stairs and saw the toddler hanging from a noose. He released the child and ran out the door with him.
Meanwhile, Karia fled in her minivan, rear-ending a car near West 28th Street and Grand Avenue and then striking the driver of the car when he got out to inspect the damage. She dragged that driver for 10 blocks. Then, at West 28th Street and Park Avenue, she hit a bicyclist.
A few minutes later, police received a report of a woman threatening to jump onto Interstate 94 from the Park Avenue overpass. Citizens grabbed the woman and prevented her from jumping until officers arrived.
In court Thursday, Karia said that she had been struggling with mental health issues in the weeks leading up to the incident.
According to the county attorney's office, Quam asked Karia if she understood that by pleading guilty to all counts against her, she was giving up her rights to a trial and the ability to use a mental illness defense.
Karia told the judge that she understood.