A Burley County child abuse death case has been reopened

BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) – A district court judge has ordered a new trial for a 27-year-old man convicted of child abuse after the body of a 3-week-old baby was found in his care.

Prosecutors said Cassandra Black Elk of New England, N.D., was the only adult at the scene where the baby died in February 2022. She told the police that she went to sleep with the baby wrapped, but when she woke up, the baby was dead. Prosecutors say he was drunk at the time.

Black Elk pleaded guilty to child abuse last August, and Judge Daniel Borgen sentenced him to five years in prison, with all but one and a half years suspended.

Now, Judge Borgen has vacated the prison sentence and set a new trial date for May. The judge found that her attorney gave Black Elk the wrong advice when she entered her guilty plea and withheld the autopsy report until she had seen the incident.

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