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Fort Thompson woman admits to suffocating infant son while sleeping

PIERRE -- A Fort Thompson woman who was drunk, fell asleep in the same bed as her infant son and smothered him has pleaded guilty to child abuse. Bonita Keeble, also known as Bonita Hare, 35, of Fort Thompson, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal ...

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PIERRE - A Fort Thompson woman who was drunk, fell asleep in the same bed as her infant son and smothered him has pleaded guilty to child abuse.

Bonita Keeble, also known as Bonita Hare, 35, of Fort Thompson, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge of child abuse almost 19 months after the asphyxiation death of her 24-day-old son.

At 1:29 a.m. on July 27, 2015, an intoxicated Keeble flagged down a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer in Fort Thompson to ask for a ride home, court documents state. She asked to first be taken to a babysitter's house, where her son was sleeping.

Keeble woke the boy, got into a twin bunk bed and tried to nurse him, but they eventually fell asleep. When Keeble awoke, her son was not breathing.

Keeble took the boy to an IHS clinic, where he was pronounced dead. A blood draw indicated Keeble's blood-alcohol content was 0.098 percent.

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Officers arrested Keeble most recently on Feb. 9, according to court documents, because a urinalysis test on Jan. 31 tested presumptively positive for methamphetamine and marijuana, a violation of her pretrial release conditions, and she was allegedly driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.18 percent on Feb. 1.

A charge of involuntary manslaughter, in which Keeble was charged with asphyxiating her son "in a grossly negligent manner," was dismissed.

The maximum penalty is 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a period of supervised release of three years. There is also a $100 assessment to the Victims' Assistance Fund, and restitution may be ordered.

Keeble's plea followed a decision by Judge Roberto Lange to deny her motion to suppress statements made to law enforcement on July 28, 2016. The defense said the statements were involuntary and impacted by the fact the interview took place inside the room where the boy died less than 30 hours prior.

A presentence investigation was ordered, and sentencing was scheduled for May in Pierre.

Related Topics: CRIME
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