By Theresa Malloy
Shacara Foster has pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the 2012 death of her toddler son, Cottrell Short.
Foster, 28, of St. Bonifacius left her son in the care of her boyfriend, Kentae Todd, 22, of Coon Rapids, on Feb. 10, 2012, when she went to St. Paul.
Todd pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on July 22 and was sentenced to 140 months in prison. Foster’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 8, and she is expected to get 93 months in prison.
According to witnesses in the criminal complaint, Foster was in the habit of leaving her children, of whom Todd was not the father, with “just anyone.”
The criminal complaint details the following leading up to the event: Todd told investigators that Short was “fussy” a for few days leading up to the incident. Short had vomited on Feb. 9 and not eaten much after the incident. Todd said Foster burned his hand on noodles, and Todd wrapped this up. The child had a 102-degree fever on Feb. 10, and Todd could not immediately reach Foster to tell her to come home and see her sick child. Foster returned at around 7 p.m., but authorities said she did not seek medical attention until an ambulance was called approximately around 11:30 p.m. An autopsy revealed that the cause of death included multiple injuries, abdominal and head injuries due to neglect, and multiple debilitating injuries.
The report noted other significant injuries including fractures to the wrist, rib leg, elbow and shoulder, and skin injuries to the head, torso and extremities. The ultimate cause of death was determined to be sepsis, a blood infection caused by a severe burn to his right hand.
The Sheriff’s Office, Minnetrista Police and Ridgeview ambulance responded to a call at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12. The residence, a small duplex at 3730 Hillview Lane in St. Bonifacius, was the home to the couple, Foster’s two children, Todd’s mother and step-father, and Todd’s 11 siblings who ranged from age 2-19. Paramedics attempted to resuscitate the child, and he was pronounced dead after being transported to the hospital shortly thereafter.
“This young boy simply didn’t deserve to die,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a press release. “Ms. Foster and Mr. Todd have received considerable punishment for their role in taking this youngster’s life. Although justice was accomplished, we were still saddened by the loss of this innocent life.”
The investigation revealed that the home the child died in contained garbage, rotting food, dead animals, animals, animal waste and unsafe conditions for a toddler. The boy and Foster’s daughter were staying in “Pack-and-Play” type cribs with heavy blankets and bedding inappropriate for infants and toddlers, according to the criminal complaint.
Dr. Thomas Lindsey Thomas of the Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s office opined that Short “would have been in extremely poor health in the hours, if not days, immediately preceding his death. His behavior, ability to move, eat, speak, respond or stay conscious would have been implicated by these many injuries and infections,” the criminal complaint states.
Toxicology reports show high levels of medication consistent with adult cold and flu medication that were not appropriate for a baby, and the levels were higher than the therapeutic levels for adults. The autopsy noted photos “show a desperately ill, battered and injured child.”
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek called this a “horrible death.”
In 2011 Minneapolis Police and Hennepin County Child Protection investigated Todd for a domestic assault in which the mother of his two-old infant was injured and the baby suffered broken ribs, according to the criminal complaint. Not enough evidence was available to prosecute for this offense.
Todd was charged with felony second-degree murder in June 2012 and gross misdemeanor charges of child neglect. Foster was charged with the same counts in addition to manslaughter in the second degree.
When Foster made her guilty plea on Tuesday, Sept. 3, she admitted she left her son with an inadequate caregiver and returned home knowing her child was burned, but she did not check on him for hours later.
Foster has relinquished custody of her daughter to a family member.
Contact Theresa Malloy at [email protected]