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Mother pleads guilty to misdemeanor in infant's death

Published: Wednesday, May 30 2012 6:18 p.m. MDT

Cali Rae Douglas, age 7 months, died June 27, 2011, at her home in Uintah County. Her mother Benita Jean Shostrom, 35, pleaded guilty Wednesday, May, 30, 2012, in 8th District Court to child abuse, a class A misdemeanor.

Geoff Liesik, Facebook

VERNAL — A woman who was charged with manslaughter in the death of her medically-fragile infant has entered a guilty plea to a reduced charge.

Benita Jean Shostrom, 35, pleaded guilty Wednesday in 8th District Court to child abuse, a class A misdemeanor. She originally faced a second-degree felony manslaughter charge in the death of her 7-month-old daughter.

Shostrom admitted that she was criminally negligent in the way she cared for Cali Rae Douglas on the day the infant died, according to Uintah County Attorney G. Mark Thomas.

Shostrom called 911 on June 26 and told dispatchers she'd found her daughter dead in her crib, court records state. The baby was born prematurely and had a number of medical issues, Shostrom told investigators. 

A doctor had prescribed supplemental oxygen for the baby. Detectives said they found oxygen tanks in Shostrom's home, but determined that oxygen was not being administered as prescribed at the time of Douglas' death.

Shostrom admitted in court that she had turned off her daughter's sleep apnea monitor and supplemental oxygen on the night the girl died, Thomas said. She also said she'd taken a Xanax before bed and slept late into the next day, according to the prosecutor.

Shostrom did not have a valid prescription for the anti-anxiety medication, sheriff's investigators said.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 12. Shostrom faces up to one year in jail and a possible fine of $1,000.

Geoff Liesik

Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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