Woman pleads not guilty to neglecting baby who died

April 5, 2022 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Bismarck woman has pleaded not guilty to neglecting her newborn daughter who was found dead when police were called to her home.

The felony child neglect charge against 26-year-old Cassandra Black Elk could send her to prison for five years if she is convicted.

South Central District Judge Daniel Borgen scheduled a trial to begin Aug. 2.

According to court documents, police responded to a Feb. 20 call of an unresponsive child and found 3-week-old Starlight Black Elk had died.

Authorities say Black Elk fought with the baby’s father in the hours before the child was found dead. The baby was alive when the father left the apartment about 1:30 a.m., according the prosecutors.

Black Elk told police her infant was swaddled and asleep on the bed after the father left. And, when she woke up about 6 a.m. she found the child unresponsive, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

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Black Elk said she did not recall details of the fight with the baby’s father because she was intoxicated and didn’t remember doing anything to harm the infant, according to a court affidavit.

She told police she had drank at least one beer and several shots of liquor, smoked marijuana, then purchased more liquor which she also consumed, the affidavit states.

Public defender James Loraas did not immediately respond to a request Tuesday for comment.