UPDATE: Laurie Cournoyer convicted in Wagner child death caseLaurie Cournoyer, 29, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of possession of methamphetamine, one count of keeping a place for the use or sale of controlled substances and one count of failing to report the death of a child.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
WAGNER — A Wagner woman arrested after a 2-year-old girl was found dead last July in a closet in her home has been convicted of three drug charges and failing to report the death of a child.
Laurie Cournoyer, 29, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of possession of methamphetamine and one count of keeping a place for the use or sale of controlled substances. She pleaded no contest to one count of failing to report the death of a child.
She and Taylor Cournoyer, 21, 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.
According to affidavits filed in the case, the couple had been using methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription sleeping pills, 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 South Dakota Attorney General’s Office announced the pleas in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon.
Sara Rabern, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said other charges were dismissed in exchange for Cournoyer’s guilty pleas. Neither side is limited by the plea agreement as to what sentence they may recommend, Rabern said.
One of the counts of methamphetamine possession is the result of an incident in which Cournoyer had the drug while in custody at the Charles Mix County Jail.
She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for each count of methamphetamine possession, five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for keeping a place for the use or sale of controlled substances, and five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for failing to report the death of a child.
The no contest plea to failure to report the death of a child marks the first conviction under South Dakota’s version of Caylee’s Law, which was enacted July 1, the release says. The law says a parent or guardian who knowingly fails to report a child’s death within six hours could face a felony charge punishable by up to five years in prison. The law is modeled after Caylee’s Law, which was passed in Florida in response to the death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, who wasn’t reported missing until 31 days after she vanished in 2008 in Orlando.
Laurie Cournoyer is scheduled to be sentenced in March.
Taylor Cournoyer was sentenced in November to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple drug charges.