ROOSEVELT — The aunt of a 14-year-old girl who ran over and killed a toddler in May has pleaded guilty to reduced charges for her role in the incident.

Nicole Annette Rodrigues, 33, entered guilty pleas Thursday to negligent homicide and allowing an unlicensed driver to drive, both misdemeanors. Rodrigues had originally been charged with second-degree felony manslaughter in the death of 22-month-old Franchesca Isabel Montes.

In addition to reducing the manslaughter charge to negligent homicide, Duchesne County prosecutors also agreed to dismiss a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death.

Rodrigues told the court that she was guilty of the charges, but believed Montes' death was an accident and not an intentional act.

According to Roosevelt police, Rodrigues allowed her 14-year-old niece behind the wheel of an SUV on May 15. The girl, with Rodrigues in the passenger seat, ran over Montes as she pulled forward out of the driveway of the toddler's Roosevelt home.

Police and prosecutors say Rodrigues left her niece at the scene with the dying toddler and fled in the SUV.

The teen — who also faced manslaughter and underage driving charges in juvenile court — was sentenced on Tuesday to spend 30 days in an Iowa youth detention facility, serve probation, and perform community service. Prosecutors also reduced the manslaughter charge in that case to a misdemeanor negligent homicide count.

Court records show that the girl had a history of 10 delinquent offenses arising from 10 separate incidents since 2007, including charges of aggravated assault with a weapon, harassment, destruction of property, and making threats. In February, she had been ordered to serve 154 days in detention.

Rodrigues had custody of her niece at the time Montes' death because the teen's mother is in prison. Rodrigues will be sentenced on Aug. 21.


Contributing: Ben Winslow

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