MEDICINE HAT, Alta. - A former day home operator in southern Alberta who caused the death of a toddler in her care has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.

Erin Jackman, who is 26, pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing the death of 19-month-old Mercedes Pepper in July 2010.

Judge Dietrich Brand said he took into account Jackman's remorse and the fact she had no prior criminal record.

But Brand said he held Jackman to a higher standard because she was in a position of trust.

Jackman sat next to her sister at the defence table in court and was slumped over while the judge read his decision.

The family of the little girl, who died of massive trauma, cried during sentencing.

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  • Jessica Tata

    FILE - In this March 23, 2012, file photo, former day care operator Jessica Tata leaves court after her arraignment in Houston. Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in the trial of Tata, the Houston day care owner who fled to Nigeria after a February 2011 fire killed four young children and injured three others. She faces four felony murder charges as well as five other counts, including abandoning a child. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, File)

  • Jessica Tata

  • Jessica Tata

  • Ron Tata

    Ron Tata sits in the courtroom after his sister, former day care operator Jessica Tata, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on 14 criminal counts Wednesday, March 23, 2011, in Houston. Tata is a suspect in the deaths of four young children in a fire at her home day care center. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)