Peoria day-care worker exonerated in baby's death suing city, county for millions

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PEORIA – The Peoria day-care worker arrested and then exonerated in the death of a baby boy is suing the city and Maricopa County for millions in damages.

Lisa Randall, 50, ran a home-based day care, and was the subject of a capital murder case after 4-month-old Dillon Uutela died in her care in April 2007.

She left Dillon alone for about 20 minutes while she changed another child’s diaper. When she returned to the room, Dillon was dead.

Two grand juries refused to indict her in the baby’s death.

Randall was arrested, released, rearrested and told that then-County Attorney Andrew Thomas would be seeking the death penalty.

A judge finally threw out the case after an expert concluded that the baby died of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). The judge dismissed the case with prejudice, which means Randall cannot be charged for the baby’s death.

While waiting to go on trial, Randall spent about seven months in jail.

Randall, who had run a day care for 25 years and had never had a complaint filed against her, is now seeking $12.6 million in damages from the city of Peoria and Maricopa County.

The suit alleges that Thomas built a case against her even though there was conflicting medical evidence. Thomas has been accused of being overzealous in several unrelated prosecutions during his term as county attorney.

Randall’s claim, one of many filed against the county, names Thomas, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the county Board of Supervisors, the County Medical Examiner's Office, Peoria, its police department and some officers.

Altogether, the claims filed against the county total more than $150 million.