Trinidad Woman Pleads No Contest in Toddler Death Case

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A Trinidad woman will be sentenced to 10 years in state prison after pleading no contest to allegations that she caused the death of her 18-month-old son last month, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office.

Alexandrea Raven Scott, 23, was arrested June 20 in Willits after bringing her 18-month-old son, Chergery Teywoh Lew Mays, to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. After an investigation, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office alleged Scott left her toddler son unattended in his car seat with the car windows rolled up in front of a friend’s residence for 10 hours while she socialized inside.

After the child was found unresponsive, a friend transported him and Scott to Howard Memorial Hospital.

According to a press release from the district attorney’s office, Scott accepted a one-time, take-it-or-leave-it offer from prosecutors under which she pleaded no contest to a charge of felony child endangerment and a special allegation that “abuse of her 18-month-old son was a proximate cause of the child’s death.” The press release from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office indicated Scott pleaded guilty to the charge but spokesperson Mike Geniella clarified to the Journal that her plea was no contest, which the court treats the same but which doesn’t carry an admission of guilt. Scott had faced a murder charge in the case.

The deal carries a stipulated sentence of 10 years, though the release states she will likely be released after three.

See the full press release from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office copied below:

Accepting a one-time, take-it-or-leave-it offer from the Mendocino County District Attorney, a 23-year-old mother entered a guilty plea on Thursday to felony child endangerment.

Defendant A, age 23, of Trinidad in Humboldt County also admitted a special sentencing enhancement alleging that abuse of her 18-month old son was a proximate cause of the child’s death.

A no contest plea to a felony charge is the same for all purposes as a guilty plea under current state law.

To accept this disposition and avoid a possible murder conviction, Scott was also required to stipulate to an aggravated sentence of 10 years in state prison and to waive all local jail credits.

Because felony child endangerment — even abuse causing death — has not been characterized by the Legislature as crimes of violence, the defendant is eligible to earn time credits in prison of up to 50% of her overall sentence. Moreover, it is expected that voter-approved Proposition 57 will further shorten the time the defendant must serve in prison, mandating her release on community supervision after she has served only three years.

“This was a death that should not have happened; I expect that it has left an unfillable hole in the lives of the child’s father, as well as the paternal and maternal sides of the extended families,” said DA David Eyster, the prosecutor handling the case.

“If nothing else, I hope the stipulated prison time will send a message that those who abuse children should expect to be treated like the serious criminals that they are. In this case, it remains difficult to believe that a parent would leave her child alone for hours on end strapped into a car seat in a closed vehicle — all night into the following afternoon. How is it possible that the child’s mother did not safeguard her infant, failed to provide him necessary food and hydration for double digit hours, and allowed him to die a lonely, excruciating death in a hot car while she was literally yards away “partying” in a house with strangers? This sort of abuse is well-deserving of hard time in state prison,” said Eyster.

Following the court’s acceptance of her change of plea, Scott’s matter was referred to the Adult Probation Department for a social study and the preparation of a prison packet. The information developed by probation travels with the defendant to the CDCR to help the prison authorities perform intake, classification, and facility assignment.

The 10-year prison sentence will be formally imposed by Superior Court Judge John Behnke at 9 a.m. Aug. 15 in Department H of the Mendocino County Superior Court in Ukiah. Any individual interested in the concluding proceedings or this defendant is welcome to attend that sentencing hearing.

The law enforcement agency that handled the underlying criminal investigation of the child’s death and submitted the crime reports and findings that allowed the DA to pursue today’s conviction was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

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