Nicole Diggs – a 32-year-old Yonkers mom – is accused of allowing her severely disabled 8-year-old daughter to die by withholding food and medical care. She also stands to potentially inherit a $1 million windfall from her daughter’s trust fund, even if she is found guilty of negligent homicide.
Writes The Associated Press, via MSN News: “Nicole Diggs and her husband have pleaded not guilty to charges of negligent homicide and child endangerment in the 2012 death of Alayah Savarese, who was the beneficiary of a trust fund created from the settlement of a malpractice suit that stemmed from complications during her birth.”
Diggs' attorney say prosecutors are angling an upcoming trial to show that Diggs – who is still employed with the NYC Public School District – “somehow disposed of her daughter in order to obtain the money.”
Mug shot seen here.
When Diggs’ daughter Alayah was still in the womb, her umbilical cord was severed, leaving the infant oxygen deprived. As a result, her 2004 birth left Alayah with “cerebral palsy, seizures and a lack of limb control, and as she grew, Alayah could not walk, talk or feed herself,” says the AP report.
Prosecutors have painted a grim picture of the girl’s life under her mother’s care. She allegedly was underfed and rarely bathed, frequently kept home from her occupational and physical therapy, and left unattended by her mother and stepfather – which caused her to suffer cuts, bruises and welts from her frequent seizures.
According to court papers, at one point Alayah’s school actually washed her, resulting in “water that was black from the dirt.” Diggs and husband, Oscar Thomas — who isn't Alayah's father — also “failed to maintain the child's hygiene which caused her to have smelly and dirty hair and clothing, a foul odor about her body and bleeding gums.”
Her cause of death was attributed to her cerebral palsy and seizure condition.
The AP report says:
If convicted, the 32-year-old Diggs wouldn't be automatically disqualified from inheriting her daughter's fortune because she isn't charged with intending to kill the girl. Many states have so-called “slayer statutes” to prevent profiting from a crime, but New York courts have generally held that without intent, a homicide doesn't disqualify someone from inheriting from a victim.
Diggs is a tenured special education teacher, but although still employed, she is prevented from having contact with children.
Although Diggs had earned about $70,000 per year while teaching at P.S. 152 Evergreen Elementary School in Bronx, New York, she is no longer allowed to interact with students, and as such has been moved out of the school and restricted to administration only. She is not permitted to use Alayah’s trust fund to pay for her defense, and has been appointed an attorney by the courts.