More charges leveled in toddler deathDozens attend remembrance walk in Wagner for Rielee Lovell.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
WAGNER — New criminal charges have been filed against the couple arrested in connection with the death of a 2-year-old girl at a tribal housing project in Wagner.
Meanwhile, dozens of people attended a remembrance walk Monday in honor of the girl, on what would have been her third birthday.
Taylor Cournoyer, 21, and Laurie Cournoyer, 28, were each charged with a nine-count indictment Wednesday by a Charles Mix County grand jury. Both are charged in connection with the death of 2-year-old Rielee Lovell, who was found dead July 4 at the couple’s home in a Wagner tribal housing project after being in their care.
They each now face five counts of felony child abuse and one count each of failure to report the death of a child, possession of methamphetamine, keeping a place for use or sale of controlled substances, and possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana.
They are scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in August in Lake Andes.
The five counts of child abuse are related to five children who were living with the Cournoyers when Lovell’s death was reported.
According to affidavits filed with court documents related to the case, the couple had been using methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription sleeping pills in the hours after the 2-year-old’s death, and neither was able to tell investigators for sure when they had last seen the girl alive. The death went unreported for more than a day and a half, the documents say.
The couple is married, according to officials, but it’s unclear why Lovell and the other children were in the couple’s care, said Sara Rabern, spokeswoman for the state Division of Criminal Investigation. According to an obituary in the Lake Andes Wave newspaper, Lovell was the daughter of Eileen Fox and Guy Lovell.
An 11-year-old male relative of the 2-year-old has also been taken into custody in connection with the death. Because the boy is a juvenile, any charges against him are not made public.
The two adults had each been charged with one count of abuse or cruelty to a minor and failure to notify law enforcement of the death of a child. The grand jury’s new indictment will replace those charges.
Both made an initial court appearance July 17 shackled and dressed in jail uniforms.
On Monday, which would have been Lovell’s third birthday, a remembrance walk was held in Wagner. About 100 people attended the 5K walk/run, which began at the tribal housing project where Lovell’s body was found and ended at the Wagner City Park.
The event was organized by members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe who hope to bring awareness to the drug-abuse problem in tribal housing.