Cecilia Rose Gardipee of Box Elder is being sentenced today for her role in the death of Kaidynce Small, an 11-month-old who died Oct. 21.
The sentencing hearing was being held in U.S. District Court at Great Falls this morning. Witnesses favoring stronger or more lenient punishment were being heard.
The results of the hearing will be posted on http://www.havredailynews.com as soon as the hearing is completed.
Gardipee pleaded guilty in May in an agreement with prosecutors to shaking the child for about 90 seconds in the early morning of Oct. 21. He died that morning.
Under the plea agreement, the prosecution dropped a charge of second-degree murder.
Her boyfriend, Garret “Kirby” LaFromboise, who fathered the child with Jasmine Small while he and Gardipee were temporarily broken up, pleaded guilty in January to sticking his finger down his son’s throat and hitting him in the stomach when the child would not stop crying.
The murder charge filed against LaFromboise, 21 at the time of the child’s death, also was dropped as part of a plea agreement.
Judge Brian Morris sentenced LaFromboise in April to 13 years and four months in prison for the assault, which has a longer-than-normal sentence because the charge included the fact that the victim is a minor.
Gardipee, 22 at the time of Kaidynce’s death, faced the same sentencing range as LaFromboise, 10 years to life.
Both sides of Kaidynce’s family were furious at LaFromboise’s sentence, with LaFromboise’s family wanting a lighter sentence, saying he had fallen into a trap of drugs and alcohol and that Gardipee was the killer, and the Small family asking for life in prison for both.
Gardipee told law enforcement officers that she had been drinking whisky that night and early morning while she and LaFromboise watched the child, part of a custody arrangement between LaFromboise and the child’s mother. She said she became frustrated when Kaidynce would not stop crying and tried covering his mouth and nose. When he continued to cry, the frustration turned to anger, she said, and she shook him for about 90 seconds. She said on a scale of 1 to 10 she used a force of nine while shaking him.
The prosecution said it was prepared to prove that the injuries Kaidynce sustained, some due to her actions and some due to LaFromboise’s, were deemed by a medical examiner to be homicidal violence. The medical examiner’s report said the toddler’s injuries included skull fractures, rib fractures, bruising on his lips, bruising on his face and torso, cuts on his fingertips, and bleeding and bruising on his brain and spinal nerves, as well as possible suffocation.
At his sentencing in April, Jasmine Small said LaFromboise at first denied being the father of the child and refused to see him, then after a paternity test showed he was the father, began visiting Kaidynce. According to some statements, Oct. 21 was the first time LaFromboise had the boy overnight.