N.D. mom sentenced in 'slow-motion' death of newborn left alone for 2 weeks

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 13, 2008 - 11:05 AM

A North Dakota woman who left her newborn "Baby Moses" at home without food or water in a basket for two weeks to die a "slow-motion" death has been sentenced to 10 years and one month in prison for second-degree murder.

Dana Deegan, 35, of White Shield in western North Dakota, also was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Chief Judge Daniel L. Hovland in Bismarck to two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $100 to a crime victim's fund.

On Oct. 20, 1998, Deegan gave birth to a healthy boy at her home in rural Mandaree, within the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

Deegan put a diaper on the boy, dressed him, fed him, wrapped him in a blanket and then placed the boy in a basket.

She left home about two hours later, leaving the baby alone. Deegan did not return to the house for roughly two weeks. Upon her return, she put the boy's body in a suitcase and left it in a ditch. The body was found in the ditch in November 1999 by a rancher north of Mandaree.

At the time, Deegan had three other children living with her, ages 1, 2, and 5.

She said in court Monday that she did not know why she killed her newborn son. "I wish I could explain why I did what I did."

U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley Monday, "Starving and dehydrating a newborn child is a violent and vicious crime. Dana Deegan chose a slow-motion method of murder, but that does nothing to diminish the fact that she heartlessly and intentionally killed her baby."

Wrigley added that "the FBI's efforts to investigate this crime and obtain Dana Deegan's confession have secured justice for an innocent child who came to be known as Baby Moses," harkening to the biblical story of the infant Moses being left afloat in the Nile.

Deegan, who pleaded guilty in December, worked at a Three Affiliated Tribes child program at the time of Baby Moses' death.

She said in court Monday that she did not know why she killed her newborn son. "I wish I could explain why I did what I did."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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