Omaha woman accused in drowning death of great-granddaughter released from jail

Omaha woman accused in drowning death of great-granddaughter released from jail
Sandra Laravie

A 62-year-old Omaha woman accused of negligence in the drowning death of her great-granddaughter was released from jail Monday without having to post bail.

Sandra Laravie faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted of negligent child abuse resulting in death. Douglas County Judge Jeffrey Marcuzzo ordered that she be released on her own recognizance, meaning that she must promise to appear on future court dates but that she did not have to put down money to be released from jail.

William Tangeman, assistant Nebraska attorney general and special prosecutor for Douglas County, told Marcuzzo that he does not think that Laravie is a flight risk.

Laravie is accused of leaving her 4-month-old great-granddaughter, Zavara Taylor, in the bathtub unattended on Aug. 22 at a home near 24th and Mary Streets.

When Laravie returned to the bathroom, Zavara was unresponsive. The child had slipped down from a hammock-like bath seat, was underwater and covered with a brown mat that had slipped into the water.

Laravie told Omaha police that she began CPR, then went outside to flag a neighbor to call 911 because she did not have a phone. Zavara was pronounced dead at Immanuel Medical Center after paramedics took her there.

Officials said in an affidavit that Laravie may have been taking double the amount of sleeping pills prescribed to her. Officers found a bottle of Zolpidem Tartrate pills that were prescribed on Aug. 16 for 30 pills with instructions to take one per day. On Aug. 22, only 18 pills remained, meaning that 12 pills had been taken in a six-day period, the affidavit says.

Laravie told officers that she took one pill the night before at 9 p.m. and may have drank a can of beer at 5 or 6 p.m., but nothing more. Officers found “marijuana paraphernalia” in the bathroom, but Laravie denied using marijuana.

When officers asked Laravie about living arrangements in the home and basic background information, she was slow answering questions and “appeared to have difficulty maintaining a train of thought for an extended period of time,” the affidavit says.

Laravie was taking care of the Zavara while her parents were at work, according to the affidavit.

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