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Cedar City woman sentenced to prison after admitting to injuring, killing daughter in 2017

Cedar City woman sentenced to prison after admitting to injuring, killing daughter in 2017

(Iron County Sheriff's Office)


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CEDAR CITY — A southern Utah woman has been sentenced to prison after admitting to injuring and killing her young daughter in 2017, according to court documents.

Cherokee May Dea, of Cedar City, will serve between one and 15 years in Utah State Prison, according to a sentencing order filed Monday in Fifth District Court in Iron County. District Court Judge Matthew L. Bell also recommended that Dea get treatment while she is in prison, the sentencing order states.

Dea pleaded guilty in February to one count of child abuse homicide and one count of child abuse that caused a serious physical injury intentionally, second-degree felonies; and two counts of child abuse that caused a serious physical injury recklessly, a third-degree felony, court documents show.

She originally was charged with murder, a first-degree felony; three counts of child abuse, a second-degree felony; and one count of endangerment of a child, a third-degree felony, in December 2017, but court records show the murder charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement in February when she entered a guilty plea for the other charges in the case.

Dea admitted to seriously injuring and causing the death of her daughter, who was about 15 months old at the time, according to her plea agreement. She also agreed to "testify truthfully in any and all court proceedings regarding the co-defendant in this matter, Brendan Dalton," according to the agreement.

Dalton has pleaded not guilty to murder, child abuse and child endangerment charges, court records show. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 3 for a review hearing.

On April 13, 2017, late in the evening, Dea's baby vomited and Dea’s boyfriend, Dalton, gave the child a bath, according to charging documents. He said the baby was tracking him with her eyes and he noticed she had a lazy eye, according to charging documents. Later, the child began "crying and breathing heavily," so Dalton picked her up to try to soothe her, documents state.

The girl then “began to arch her head and shoulders back and then lost consciousness,” according to the documents. Dalton laid the girl down and went outside to get Dea.

When the two came back inside, the girl was not breathing, according to documents. They performed chest compressions and then took the girl to the hospital, where a CAT-scan revealed that she had suffered a brain injury, documents state.

She was airlifted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. The girl was put on life support until she died on April 17, according to documents.

An autopsy later revealed that the girl died from blunt force trauma to the brain, charges state. She also had two rib fractures, a right wrist fracture and a left elbow fracture, the autopsy revealed.

Medical personnel also found morphine in the girl’s system, according to charging documents. Dea and Dalton admitted to “using drugs on nearly a daily basis,” including marijuana, meth and occasionally heroin, charges state.

Dea told investigators that she was with her daughter for the entire day before the girl suffered fatal injuries, according to charging documents. She said she also noticed the baby had a lazy eye that concerned her, and considered taking her to get examined, according to charging documents. Dea told police she had been arguing with Dalton on the night she took her daughter to the hospital and wanted to break up with him because she thought he was seeing other women, charging documents state.

A witness told investigators that while Dea was at her home about six months before Dea’s daughter died, she had seen Dea shake her daughter, the documents state.

The daughter had previously been admitted to the hospital on April 1, 2017, and was treated for severe dehydration and strep throat, according to charging documents. Before that, she had not had any other health problems, according to charging documents.

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