Law | National

Woman pleads in connection with Yankton Sioux girl's death





A South Dakota woman pleaded guilty in connection to the death of a girl at a housing unit managed by the Yankton Sioux Tribe.

Laurie Cournoyer, 29, pleaded to two counts of possession of methamphetamine and one count of maintaining a place where drugs are used or sold. She also pleaded no contest to a charge of failure to report the death of a child.

Cournoyer admitted she was using drugs when 2-year-old Rielee Lovell was found dead in the tribal housing unit. Rielee reportedly had been left dead in a closet for two days.

Cournoyer's huband, Taylor Cournoyer, 21, pleaded guilty last year to drug charges. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

The tribe manages the unit where the crimes occurred but lacks criminal and civil jurisdiction over the land because it's owned by the state. The nearest town with law enforcement also lacks jurisdiction.

The federal courts have ruled that the reservation has been diminished, leading to a patchwork of trust, non-Indian and state-owned land that law enforcement authorities say has caused confusion.

Get the Story:
Laurie Cournoyer convicted in Wagner child death case (The Mitchell Daily Republic 1/23)
Guilty plea entered in Wagner child death (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 1/23)

Related Stories:
Yankton Sioux house where toddler died is called a meth lab (8/23)