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Daycare Owner Charged with Aggravated Manslaughter
Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Lehigh Acres daycare owner is under arrest tonight for her role in the death of a two year old child.  Melissa Smith, DOB 6-15-71, of 5003 Lee Circle North, Lehigh Acres, is charged with Aggravated Manslaughter and three counts of Child Neglect.  Smith is the owner of Smith Family Daycare, which operated out of her home.

On June 24, 2013 at approximately 2:30 p.m., deputies were called to 5007 Lee Circle North (located next door to the daycare). Smith had brought an unresponsive child to the residence seeking medical assistance.  Deputies assumed rescue efforts until medics arrived.  The child, later identified as Christian Byrd, DOB 8-2-10, was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit assumed the investigation.  The investigation revealed that Smith was watching seven children under the age of five in her house that day.  Smith placed Byrd, a three year old, and two four year olds in a portable swimming pool in her backyard and left them alone.  Smith then went inside the home to attend to the other three children when she realized she needed to use the restroom.  As Smith exited the restroom, approximately five to seven minutes later, one of the children told her "Christian's dead."  That's when Smith scooped the child into her arms and ran to the neighbor's home.  In doing so, she left the three children still unattended in the pool, as well as the other three in the home.

The autopsy determined that Christian Byrd died as a result of drowning. 

Due to Smith consciously and intentionally leaving the victim in a swimming pool without supervision and knowing he could not swim, detectives charged Smith with Aggravated Manslaughter and Child Neglect.