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Uintah mom sent to jail after infant’s death

Courts » Woman gets a break because cause of death is unclear.

By Aaron Falk

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Jun 12 2012 06:01 pm • Last Updated Sep 11 2012 11:34 pm

A Uintah County woman has been sentenced to a year in jail for child abuse that prosecutors believe led to her infant daughter’s death.

Benita Shostrom, 35, was sentenced Tuesday in 8th District Court after pleading guilty last month to the class A misdemeanor.

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Prosecutors originally charged Shostrom with second-degree felony manslaughter in the June 2011 death of 7-month-old Cali Rae Douglas. But Shostrom was given a plea deal because "it wasn’t clear in the medical examiner’s mind" whether the child died from complications due to being born premature, said Mike Drechsel, Uintah County’s chief deputy attorney over criminal prosecutions.

Shostrom put the child to bed on June 27, 2011, but did not give the girl her prescribed oxygen and did not plug in and attach the girl to her medical monitoring equipment, court documents state. Shostrom also admitted to taking two Xanax without a prescription. She did not check on the child between 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 a.m. the next day, according to court documents.

"We believe she substantially contributed to the death of the child," Drechsel said, "but there were medical issues with the child as well."

Shostrom was given credit for the two months she spent in jail after being extradited to Utah from California. She was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $2,500 to cover the cost of extradition.

"There was a little child relying on her mom to take care of her," the prosecutor said. "It’s hard to feel pleased about any outcome short of bringing that child back to us. But I do feel like the process was fair and she’s accepted some level of responsibility. I really wish this little girl was still among us."


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