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Parents of drowned toddlers file suit

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Posted: Thursday, November 16, 2006 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:16 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Joyce May

Killeen Daily Herald

A wrongful death suit has been filed by the parents of two toddlers who drowned in June 2005, citing negligence by the owner of a daycare facility and her husband.

Ursula and Harold Rosario are named as defendants in a suit filed Oct. 16 in 52nd District Court by Devin and Anatasia Dewald, parents of Conner William and Devin Jacquelin Dewald.

The 23-month-old twins died June 13, 2005, just days before their second birthday, in a backyard swimming pool at a home daycare facility operated by Ursula Rosario.

"It's a horrific incident that occurred, and the petition that was filed really speaks for itself," said the Dewalds' attorney, Michael L. Scanes, of Waco. "We hope to get the case tried or resolved sometime in 2007."

In a response filed Monday by Ursula Rosario's defense attorney, Colin H. O'Neill, of the Waco law firm Fulbright-Winniford, Rosario has denied the charges and requested a jury trial.

O'Neill said he is representing only Ursula Rosario at this time, and that Harold Rosario has not been served.

"I can assure you that we all feel very sorry for the family and our thoughts are with the family, but we will present this case at the time of trial," O'Neill said, noting that the discovery phase of civil litigation takes many months.

A representative in the court coordinator's office said Wednesday no hearing or trial date has been set.

The suit describes the difficult process the Dewalds endured to conceive the children, who were born June 26, 2003.

While the Rosarios were not home at the time of the incident, the suit alleges they were negligent in failing to maintain an appropriate latching mechanism on the gates providing access to the pool area. It also alleges there was an extremely dangerous and hazardous condition on the defendants' property.

"The swimming pool, along with the unlocked and open door, the unlatched and open gate, the open steps or stairs to the pool, and other aspects and conditions of the property created an extremely dangerous and hazardous condition on (the) defendants' property, particularly to young children such as the Dewald twins," the petition reads.

The suit further claims the Rosarios were negligent in hiring Keri Ann Waller – Ursula Rosario's daughter-in-law – to supervise the children.

Waller, 26, was originally sentenced Sept. 6 to six years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for the drowning deaths, but she will now receive "shock probation" following a sentencing agreement with the state.

District Attorney David Castillo said Waller will serve six months in prison. If she does that without incident, she will be placed on probation.

The theory behind shock probation is that immersing a defendant in the penal system for a short period of time can "shock" him or her into a non-criminal lifestyle.

The length of probation will be determined by 52nd District Judge Phillip Zeigler when Waller appears before him Nov. 27.

She is expected to be taken into custody at that time, Castillo said.

Zeigler found Waller guilty Aug. 25 on two felony charges of recklessly, and by omission, causing serious bodily harm to the children.

Castillo also said he has talked to the Dewald family, and they agree the action against Waller would be a "suitable resolution."

Contact Joyce May at jmay@kdhnews.com

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