Update – 2:30 p.m. – The owner of a Rockville day care center is being held on a $2 million bond after he was charged with second-degree murder and child abuse in the death of a 6-month-old girl allegedly injured while in his care.
Montgomery County police announced Tuesday that Kia Divband, 35, had been charged in the death of the infant, Miller “Millie” Lilliston of Rockville. Divband, who is being held at the county jail in Boyds, appeared Tuesday via a video conference feed during a bond hearing in Rockville District Court.
Police said Divband operates Little Dreamers, a licensed daycare center, at his residence at 1603 Grandin Ave. in the Twinbrook neighborhood of Rockville. On April 19, detectives arrived at the residence after responding to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville to investigate a report of an unresponsive infant who had been transported from the day care.
According to police, doctors diagnosed Millie with rib fractures, blood clots in her head and multiple bruises to her face and body. She was then transported by helicopter to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C, where an exam “revealed additional injuries to include retinal hemorrhages, a fractured femur, and a fractured humerus. All of the injuries were in various stages of healing and were classified as non-accidental, inflicted trauma,” according to police.
On April 22, the baby died from her injuries, police said. During the police investigation, Millie’s parents said she had been healthy and without injuries when dropped off at the day care. They also produced a photo taken April 18 that showed the baby free of facial bruises.
Divband told police Millie was dropped off at his residence at 8 a.m. April 19 and then took a nap. When she woke up at 10:30 a.m., he gave her a bottle of breast milk and she soon started choking and vomiting. He brought the baby to the bathroom to clean her off, and then noticed that she was unresponsive and her lips had turned blue. Divband said he performed CPR on the girl while his wife called 911. Emergency responders then transported the baby to Shady Grove, according to police.
During an April 21 search of the day care, police said homicide detectives found blood in multiple spots inside the residence, including a stroller in which the baby was seated April 19. Police also found bloodied baby wipes in a trash can outside.
According to police, medical reports from doctors at Children’s National Medical Center said the baby’s injuries were not “consistent with the choking event described by Divband, but were consistent with repeated incidents of physical abuse.”
On April 24, the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled that Millie’s death was caused by multiple blunt-force injuries.
In court Tuesday, prosecutors described Millie's injuries as "too numerous to count" and recommended Divband be held without bond.
However, Divband's defense attorney Terrence McGann described the case as a "rush to judgment." He said there's no evidence in the case that Divband caused Millie's injuries. McGann said that Divband has worked in child care for 14 years and during that time had no complaints filed against him.
"Nothing like this has been alleged in the past," McGann said.
McGann added that Divband has lived in Rockville for 30 years and should not be considered a flight risk. He said Divband would not be supervising children, although he did not comment on whether his child care business had been shut down.
Five of Divband's family members, including his parents and wife, were in the courtroom Tuesday, but declined to comment on the charges. McGann said Divband's family "adamantly supports" him.
"Mr. Divband fully intends to defend himself in this case," McGann said. He added that it would be unlikely Divband or his family could afford the $2 million bond.
Divband faces 30 years in prison for the second-degree murder charge, 40 years for the charge of child abuse resulting in death and 25 years for first-degree child abuse.
Prosecutors responded to McGann by saying police and hospital experts believe Divband is solely responsible for Millie's injures. Prosecutors also said Millie had suffered leg fractures in the weeks prior to the incident that were in the process of healing that may have been caused by Divband.
Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said outside the District courthouse Tuesday that Millie was the only child being cared for at the daycare center the morning of the incident. He said Little Dreamers has been licensed by the county for about a year. He did not know if Divband had operated other child care centers prior to opening Little Dreamers or if the business has since had its license revoked.
The Little Dreamers website says Divband has been “in the early childhood education field for over 14 years.” His resume, which is posted on the daycare website, says he graduated from Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville and the University of Maryland before working multiple jobs in child care.