The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 15, 2013

Judge rules against mother visits of son

Christina DeLeon, 19, charged with second-degree manslaughter

By Dan Linehan
dlinehan@mankatofreepress.com

---- — An Arlington woman whose 8-month-old son died Nov. 9 will at least temporarily be unable to visit her other son, a Sibley County judge decided this week.

Christina DeLeon, 19, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, child neglect and the possession of methamphetamine paraphernalia in the residence of a child.

A sheriff’s deputy arrived at her apartment at about 4:45 p.m. on Nov. 9 and found an infant, Elijah, lying naked and motionless on the living room floor, according to the criminal complaint. There was about six inches of water in the bathtub, along with a child-sized chair without straps.

DeLeon told the deputy that she had been giving her children a bath when the older boy, an 18-month-old, threw a fit. She said she dried him off, gave him a bottle and returned to the tub to find the 8-month-old next to his chair.

According to the criminal complaint, DeLeon implied that the boy had died from a hit to the head rather than a drowning. She told the deputy the boy was not underwater when she found him and that he must have hit his head, though she didn’t see it happen.

The deputy said in the criminal complaint that he didn’t see any blood or evidence of head trauma. A preliminary autopsy shows the victim drowned.

DeLeon told the deputy that she performed CPR on the infant and picked up her cell phone to make a call. According to the complaint, “She said that she first called a bunch of numbers and said she didn’t know what she was doing.”

She called her mother, but a review of her phone log shows that it took her 17 minutes to call 911, according to the complaint.

Police found a pipe with meth residue on the kitchen table, and DeLeon’s urine tested positive for meth and marijuana. DeLeon told rescuers that she had given the infant adult Nyquil, and a baby dropper partially filled with Nyquil was found in the kitchen.

The Free Press was unable to reach DeLeon’s attorney.

DeLeon’s child has been placed in protective custody, and a judge decided on Thursday to continue that placement. She asked to visit the boy but the county opposed that request, said Bryce A.D. Ehrman, assistant county attorney. The judge agreed with the county but said that the social service agency and the child’s legal guardian can work on a plan for visitation.

DeLeon is not in custody; the county didn’t ask that she be arrested so she can make funeral arrangements, Ehrman said.

DeLeon is due back in court on Thursday, and Ehrman said the county will begin making its case that DeLeon’s parental rights should be terminated entirely.