Change of plea hearing set for Mitchell woman accused of 'stomping' 5-year-old to death

If convicted of the second-degree murder charge in connection to the death of a 5-year-old boy, Julia Carter faces a mandatory life prison sentence.

Julia Lee Carter was 21-years-old in June 2020 when she was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and child abuse in connection with the death of a 5-year-old child. Mugshot courtesy of the Davison County Jail

A Mitchell woman who was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly killing a 5-year-old boy by stomping his abdomen is set to appear in court Monday, Dec. 13, for a change of plea hearing.

Julia Lee Carter, 23, was scheduled to face a jury trial on Dec. 6 in Davison County for the murder charges from June 2020. However, the trial was canceled due to the change of plea hearing that’s slated to take place at 1:30 p.m. on Monday inside the courtroom of the Davison County Public Safety Center.

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Carter pleaded not guilty to all charges in connection to the alleged murder. Her attorneys, Chris Nipe and Zach Flood, also sought to change the trial venue due to the highly emotional nature of the case, which was denied by a Davison County Judge Chris Giles.

The change of plea hearing signals a possible plea agreement may have been reached between state prosecutors and Carter.

If she’s convicted of the second-degree murder charge, Carter is facing a mandatory life prison sentence. In South Dakota, second-degree murder is a Class B felony that carries a minimum sentence of life in the state penitentiary and a $50,000 fine. She’s also facing first-degree manslaughter, a Class C felony that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $50,000 fine; aggravated assault and an alternative charge of child abuse, both Class 3 felonies that carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.


An autopsy revealed the boy died from blunt force trauma to the abdomen area of his body. According to an arrest affidavit, Carter admitted to “kicking” the boy in the stomach five times and “stomping” him in the abdomen once during an interview with investigators.

A new charge was recently brought against Carter for allegedly assaulting a corrections officer at the Davison County Jail where she has been held in custody since June 2020. Court documents allege Carter spit on a corrections officer during a Sept. 16 cell check.

For the assault, she was charged with assault by bodily fluids on a corrections officer in a county jail, a Class 6 felony, which is punishable by two years in prison, a $4,000 fine or both.

Carter is being held in custody at the Davison County Public Safety Center, with a $100,000 cash bond.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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