6-month-old baby in coma after daycare worker slams him on table

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – A former Minnesota daycare operator has been sentenced to nearly eight years in prison following a guilty plea to first-degree assault for causing severe brain damage to a 6-month-old boy under her care.

Michelle Maree Holte, 59, received a 91-month sentence from Hennepin County Judge Jay M. Quam on Friday after admitting to the traumatic injuries that left the infant, Nolan Sapp, comatose and requiring a consequential surgical procedure to alleviate swelling of the brain.

The incident unfolded on October 18, 2023, when Nolan’s parents collected him from Holte’s Champlin-based daycare. They immediately noticed alarming signs – his eyes were abnormally fixed to the left and were “bouncing” while his limbs appeared rigid, and he could not turn his head. A rush to the hospital followed, where heartbreaking medical interventions, including a coma induction and skull removal surgery, were necessary to address his subdural hemorrhage and retinal hemorrhages.

Court documents predict enduring medical challenges for Nolan as he continues to recover from the severe trauma he experienced.

Lisa Sapp, Nolan’s mother, conveyed her devastation and the toll the past seven months had taken on her family during the sentencing hearing.

Investigators unveiled Holte’s initial cover-up attempt, in which she falsely implicated another child in Nolan’s injuries. Further probing, which included dialogues with children at the care center, painted a picture of physical misconduct by Holte towards the infant. Holte later confessed to mishandling Nolan under stress, citing her feelings of being “overwhelmed and frustrated.”

With evident regret, Holte addressed the court, stating her “deepest remorse” for her actions.

Judge Quam, while sentencing Holte, acknowledged the irrevocable nature of the boy’s suffering, expressing regret that the court could not undo the harm inflicted upon Nolan and his family.

Community support for Nolan and his treatment has manifested in the creation of a GoFundMe campaign aimed at covering his accumulating medical costs.