Appeals court upholds 10-year sentence for infant's death
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a 10-year sentence for a woman from the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota who admitted she left her infant son to die on the day he was born.

Dana Deegan pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the October 1998 death of her son. Two judges on the court said her sentence was just and was on the lower end of federal guidelines.

But Judge Myron Bright, who has been on the bench for more than four decades, filed a 60-page dissent. He cited Deegan's history of being victimized, the unusual nature of the crime -- neonaticide is extremely unusual -- and noted that a similar case in North Dakota state court resulted in probation for the mother.

"In the view of this judge, the procedure followed and the imposition of a ten-year-plus prison sentence on Ms. Deegan, a young American Indian woman, represents the most clear sentencing error that this dissenting judge has ever seen," Bright wrote.

Deegan could ask the 8th Circuit to rehear the case. She could also petition the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

Get the Story:
Judge: Neonaticide sentence unfair (The Fargo Forum 5/26)
Appeals court upholds Deegan sentence (The Bismarck Tribune 5/26)
Suitcase Baby Conviction Upheld (AP 5/26)

8th Circuit Decision:
US v. Deegan (May 25, 2010)

Related Stories:
Fort Berthold woman pleads guilty to murder (12/11)
Fort Berthold woman can't return to tribal job (5/24)
Fort Berthold woman charged with murdering son (5/23)