Orange City daycare provider pleads not guilty to murder, released on bail
A woman accused of killing a three-year-old child she was providing daycare to has entered a plea of not guilty.
Rochelle Sapp faces First Degree Murder and Child Endangerment charges in connection with the death of Autumn Elgersma. She entered a plea of not guilty on Thursday morning.
Elgersma was in the care of Sapp on October 29th when she suffered a fractured skull and brain trauma. She was taken to a Sioux Falls hospital where she died from her injures on October 31st.
Court documents show that Sapp initially told Autumn's mother that the girl had fallen down the stairs and hurt her neck. Hospital staff noticed that the injuries were not consistent with Sapp's story. When authorities challenged her story, Sapp admitted that "she threw her down hard on the ground" because Autumn was having trouble getting her coat off and was not asking for help.
Sapp initially faced charges of Felony Willful Injury and Felony Child Endangerment, but those charges were dropped while authorities gathered enough evidence to charge her with murder. The key piece of evidence was the autopsy, which determined that Autumn died from blunt force trauma to the head and her death was ruled a homicide.
Sapp was released from the Sioux County Jail after posting 10 percent of her $250,000 bond. A judge denied her request on Thursday to have her bond lowered.
A pre-trial conference will take place on April 8th, at which time, a trial date is scheduled to be set.