Woman pleads guilty to murder by neglect of her toddler

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SEATTLE - A member of the Tulalip Tribes pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder and criminal mistreatment in the death of one daughter and neglect of the second.

Christina D. Carlson, 38, was indicted by the grand jury last May following the October 2012 death of her 19-month-old daughter and the neglect of her 33-month-old daughter.

Carlson has been jailed at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac since Jan. 11, 2013. 

The criminal complaint and plea agreement described how on Oct. 8, 2012, emergency crews were called to an address on Marine Drive Northeast on the Tulalip Tribal Reservation where Carlson was performing CPR on her 19-month-old daughter who was unresponsive on a blanket on the ground. 

Court documents said the child was unconscious, not breathing and was covered in urine and feces. 

A second child, 33-month-old Juanita Craig, was found strapped in her car seat in a nearby vehicle.  The child was pale, unresponsive and also covered in urine and feces.  She was transported to the hospital and later recovered. 

The 19-month-old child, Chantel Craig, died.  The Snohomish County Medical examiner classified the manner of death as homicide by parental neglect

According to the report, Chantel Craig was malnourished and dehydrated and weighed only 19 pounds. Her skin in the diaper area was raw and infested with maggots, and her hair was infested with lice, the report said.

Prosecutors said the investigation showed that Carlson had been living in the car with the girls on the property since mid-September.  On Oct. 8, 2012, she had left the girls in the car while she went to use a phone at a home on the property. 

Authorities said Carlson admitted in her plea agreement that she was away from the car for several hours, attempting to obtain drugs for her personal use.  About 20 minutes after the neighbors told her to go back to the car and her children, Carlson returned, asking them to call 911 because the youngest child was unresponsive, police said.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, both the prosecution and defense will recommend a prison sentence of eight to 13 years, but U.S. District Judge James L. Robart is not bound by that recommendation and can impose any sentence,  including a maximum life sentence. 

Sentencing is scheduled for July 21.

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