Ashley Longworth, 33, of Regina, is facing one count of manslaughter and made her first appearance in provincial court Wednesday afternoon.
The victim, Zoey Hancock, was found unresponsive in a home daycare, said Kayla DeMars-Krentz, the Hancock family’s lawyer.
Longworth was allegedly the provider of that home daycare, DeMars-Krentz said, adding the facility did not have a specific name.
Police confirmed Longworth was operating an unlicensed daycare and “did not hold employment as it related to the care or supervision of children.”
Zoey’s mother, Deborah Hancock, and mother’s partner, Bryce Loomer, were in the courtroom for Longworth’s appearance.
Their lawyer, speaking on their behalf outside the courthouse, said they are relieved.
“It’s been a horrific two years waiting for something to simply start,” DeMars-Krentz said. “It’s been very difficult for them.
“Nothing can really compensate for the loss of this joyful, precious little girl, but hopefully the charges that are before the court will bring them some peace and resolution, eventually.”
In a follow-up email, DeMars-Krentz said Zoey was a “spirited child whose bright smile brought light to those around her.”
A 911 call at 9:45 a.m. on March 20, 2018, indicated an unresponsive three-year-old girl at a residence in northeast Regina. EMS provided emergency care to the child before taking her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Police said Zoey was dropped off at the daycare at 7:45 a.m.
Shortly after the child’s death, Regina police were called to the hospital at approximately 12:25 p.m. They have been investigating in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service.
“As police we are very aware of families in our community who have had to endure the tragic loss of a loved one,” said Supt. Corey Zaharuk, with the Regina Police Service and in charge of their investigative services division.
“Combine that with lengthy police investigations, it can often be unbearably challenging for family members. This is not lost on us.
“I want to thank Zoey’s mother and her family for their support and incredible patience with the Regina Police Service while investigating Zoey’s death.”
Longworth was arrested Wednesday. She was released on conditions of keeping the peace and good behavior. She is not to have contact with Deborah Hancock or Bryce Loomer in person or online. She is not to seek employment or volunteer work caring for children under the age of 16.
DeMars-Krentz said that condition is why Zoey’s parents and family feel relieved.
Longworth is scheduled to appear in court again on March 18.
RPS said this homicide brings the city’s total number up to seven in 2018.