Wagner man pleads guilty to drug charges arising from child death caseCharges against his wife are still pending.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
WAGNER — A 21-year-old Wagner man arrested in July after the body of a 2-year-old girl was found in a closet in his home has pleaded guilty to two drug charges that arose from the incident.
Taylor Cournoyer pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of possession of methamphetamine and one count of keeping a place for the use or sale of controlled substances.
Cournoyer had pleaded not guilty in August to an indictment charging him with those and seven additional charges, including five counts of abuse or cruelty to a minor and one count of failure to notify law enforcement of the death of a child.
He also admitted to being a habitual offender, which increased the maximum penalty for his crimes to 25 years in prison and a $50,000 fine, according to a Wednesday press release from the state Attorney General’s Office.
Sentencing is set for November.
Cournoyer and 28-year-old Laurie Cournoyer were both arrested after 2-year-old Rielee Lovell was found dead July 4 at the couple’s home in a Wagner tribal housing project after being in their care.
Charges against Laurie Cournoyer are still pending, the release says. She pleaded not guilty in August to an identical indictment to the one charged to Taylor Cournoyer.
The state Attorney General’s Office announced Taylor Cournoyer’s plea in a news release issued at 4:57 p.m. Wednesday, and officials involved in the case were not immediately available for comment.
According to affidavits filed in 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 allegedly went unreported for nearly two days.
The couple is married, according to officials, but it’s unclear why Lovell and the other children were in the couple’s care.
According to an affidavit, Taylor Cournoyer said he didn’t notice Lovell wasn’t around on July 3 because he was gone most of the day at work and when he got home he wanted to relax.
“Taylor stated that it’s sometimes stressful at home because the kids are real a******s,” according to the affidavit.
An affidavit also states one of Lovell’s siblings told a neighborhood child to come see “my dead sister” on July 3 at 9:30 p.m. The neighborhood child stated Lovell was lying in a closet.
An 11-year-old boy has also been charged in connection with the girl’s death, but authorities have withheld details of his alleged involvement due to his age.
The Daily Republic’s Anna Jauhola contributed to this report.