A criminal case fell apart this week against a Minneapolis couple charged in the death of their 6-week-old daughter, who was found face down in a laundry basket in their home.
Judge Daniel Mabley on Monday found the mother, Cardie Jackson, not guilty on murder and child neglect charges. Similar charges against the father, Shonwta Jackson, were dropped the next day.
Following a bench trial, Mabley ruled that Hennepin County prosecutors did not prove that Cardie Jackson caused the death of her daughter, Imani, in her Minneapolis home in March 2014. The night before, the couple had put Imani in the basket, where she usually slept, and found her not breathing that morning. The medical examiner found that the girl had suffocated.
Mabley found that it was “unclear” whether putting the child to sleep in a laundry basket was “likely to substantially harm” Imani and that photographs showed the basket setup did not appear different from safe-sleep examples in pamphlets given to Cardie Jackson.
In his order dismissing the charges, he also wrote that the state did not prove that the mother was intoxicated before her child’s death.
The Jacksons have faced numerous child abuse and neglect allegations since 1993, with child protection removing nine of their children from care since then.
The parents still may lose another child, a boy who was placed into foster care following Imani’s death. In that case, social workers found the boy had “significant special needs” that the parents were failing to meet, according to records. The boy, now 3, is thriving in his foster home, according to a social worker’s report.
Neither Cardie Jackson or Shonwta Jackson could be reached for comment. According to court records, they appear to be following their case plans, including remaining free of drugs and finding safe housing.