Questions swirl in St. Paul baby's death

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 27, 2012 - 11:20 PM

How the newborn boy died is not clear, but his violent father, freed from jail hours earlier, wasn't supposed to be in the St. Paul apartment.

A judge had ordered De'Andre Lewis to stay away from his battered girlfriend and her three children. But within 10 hours after Lewis got out of the Ramsey County jail, he was back at her Dayton's Bluff apartment -- and their newborn was dead, court papers say.

Still unknown is how the 5-week-old boy died late Dec. 18 or early Dec. 19. Toxicology and microscopic analyses are underway, according to the Ramsey County medical examiner's office.

The baby was found dead in his mother's bed, "cold to the touch," about 3 a.m. Dec. 19, court papers say. The mother told police she routinely let her baby sleep in her bed.

Lewis had been released on Dec. 18 from the Ramsey County jail pending sentencing after admitting in court to a felony assault on his estranged girlfriend on Nov. 11.

Lewis, 27, of St. Paul, is also charged in Ramsey County with five counts of violating a protection order, including three stemming from the most recent incident.

Court papers recounting the Nov. 11 incident said that a bystander was driving in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood when a woman with two small children flagged her down in the 200 block of Maple Street. The woman, Shanita Pasley, said she'd just been assaulted by Lewis at their apartment, and she and her 4-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son got into the passer-by's car.

Lewis rushed outside and banged on the car windows, so the passer-by drove a distance before calling 911.

Police arrived and found Pasley crying, holding her left elbow in pain. She said she'd delivered a baby two days earlier. She said Lewis woke her up at 2 a.m., wanted to argue and began kicking and hitting her all over her body.

"He just kept kicking me, like I was a dog on the street," she told an officer.

As he kicked, hit and screamed at her, Lewis held their newborn son under his other arm, a complaint says.

The 4-year-old and 6-year-old tried to intervene as he beat and strangled the woman before the trio fled.

To the officer, Pasley "expressed grave concern about her days-old newborn," who was still in the house with Lewis, the complaint said.

The 4-year-old kept pleading with police to take Lewis to jail, and when the officer asked Pasley where she was hurt, the girl spoke up:

"All over her body and he choked her. He being mean to my mommy. He fighting. He scared me."

On Dec. 18, Lewis appeared in Ramsey County District Court before Judge Robyn Millenacker. She ordered him released until sentencing on March 14, with no contact with his estranged girlfriend and her kids. Project Remand, a private, nonprofit organization that provides pretrial services, was managing the conditional release.

Lewis agreed to have no contact with Pasley and the kids and not to go to their apartment.

The baby was last seen alive just before 10 p.m. on Dec. 18, when Pasley lay down by him in her bed. She later told police that when she got up to use the bathroom a few hours later, the baby was not breathing.

She initially told first responders that Lewis was not at her apartment that night and that she hadn't seen him since he went to jail in November.

The 4-year-old approached officers and said, "De'Andre was here earlier, but Momma made him leave when she called the ambulance. Momma told us not to tell anyone because it was a secret."

Police then asked the mother whether Lewis had been there, and she said, "Yeah, I just didn't want him to get in trouble, so I told him to leave."

She said that, after his release from jail the evening before, they drank gin and beer in her apartment, even though she knew he wasn't supposed to be there.

On Dec. 23, four days after the baby died, Lewis was arrested on a warrant charging him with three counts of violating a no-contact order.

Judge Leonardo Castro revoked Lewis' conditional release on Christmas Eve.

Joy Powell • 651-925-5038

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