Mother sentenced to 2 years over baby's death

A woman who allowed her baby to die of an untreated infection has been sentenced to two years less a day in jail.
Shatoya Cheyenne Chatelaine was found dead in her crib after contracting a infection. (CBC)

A woman who allowed her baby to die of an untreated infection has been sentenced to two years less a day in jail.

Six years ago Charissma Deedee McDonald's 17-month old daughter Shatoya Cheyenne Chatelaine was found dead in her crib.

The child died after contracting impetigo cantagiosa,  a common — and treatable — bacterial infection.

McDonald pleaded guilty last November to criminal negligence causing death.

When McDonald heard the sentence Wednesday, she called out to a relative in the court, "Take care of my babies."


Previously, court had heard that a doctor making a home visit told McDonald to take the girl to hospital, but McDonald failed to do so.

Following the death, a pathologist found the child had broken ribs that were several weeks old, as well as various old bruises.

McDonald told police she didn't want to go to the hospital because she was afraid Social Services would seize her daughter, as well as her other four children.

'Senseless tragedy'

In the sentencing decision, Queen's Bench Justice Neil Gabrielson said a strong message needs to be sent "so that this senseless tragedy will not be repeated."

McDonald's fear of intervention by Social Services did not sit well with the judge.

"That may be an explanation for the accused's failure to take her for medical care but it is no excuse," Gabrielson said. "The victim died from an infection but it was an infection which could have been treated but for the criminal negligence of the accused.

"The accused may be remorseful but the victim lost her life as a result of the accused's actions or inactions."

Charissma McDonald, leaving court from a previous appearance, has been sentenced to two years less a day in jail. (CBC)

The Crown had sought a three-year jail sentence.

The defence said an appropriate sentence would be 18 months to two years less a day, with the sentence to be served in the community.

McDonald told the court that she is sorry for what happened and that not a day goes by when she doesn't think about Shatoya.

The Crown prosecutor on the case said that the sentence was close to what she was seeking.

"It's as close to penitentiary time as you can get," Sheryl Fillo said. Sentences of less than two years duration are served in the provincial correctional system.

"I think it is a very strong message," she added.

Defence lawyer Chris Lavier, who helped defend McDonald, repeated the woman's expression of remorse.

"I think there's not a lot more that can be said," Lavier said. "It was very evident that she is very sorry for her actions."

Child seized at birth

In a previous court proceeding, it was learned that Shatoya had been seized at birth because opiates were found in her system. The child had been returned to McDonald's care six months before she died.

Gayle Warkentin cared for Shatoya before she was returned to her biological mother and was at the court Wednesday for sentencing.

"It wouldn't have mattered what the sentence was," she said. "Nothing would have brought Shatoya back and it's over. Like for us, it just feels so good that it is over."

With files from The Canadian Press