Home Minneapolis Press Releases 2013 St. Michael Woman Sentenced for Causing the Death of a Child

St. Michael Woman Sentenced for Causing the Death of a Child

U.S. Attorney’s Office November 06, 2013
  • District of North Dakota (701) 297-7400

FARGO, ND—U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on November 6, 2013, Hope Louise Tomahawk Whiteshield, 32, of St. Michael, North Dakota, was sentenced before U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson on one charge of felony child abuse, which caused the death of a young child, and one charge of witness tampering.

Judge Erickson sentenced Whiteshield to the maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment on the felony child abuse charge. He also sentenced Whiteshield to 10 years' imprisonment on the witness tampering charge. The sentences are to run consecutively and are to be followed by three years of supervised release. Whiteshield was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $6,952.54 and to pay a $200 special assessment to the crime victims fund.

United States Attorney Timothy Purdon said, “The 30-year sentence imposed today cannot undue this horrible situation. It does, however, provide some measure of justice to the victim and her family. I am extremely proud of our law enforcement partners at the FBI and the BIA Office of Justice Services and of the Assistant United States Attorneys in this office whose investigation of this tragic incident led to a quick and correct identification of the perpetrator here and to the swift and just resolution of these charges.”

On May 7, 2013, Hope Whiteshield’s husband, Freeman Whiteshield, gained custody of his two-year-old twin granddaughters who had been previously living in a foster home in Bismarck, North Dakota.

On June 12, 2013, Hope Whiteshield was outdoors at her residence with her three children, a niece and nephew, and the twin girls. The children observed Whiteshield push one of the twins (M.W.) down an embankment leading into a ditch area between her yard and the road. The girl landed on her back, got up, and began to cry. Whiteshield then picked up the other twin girl (L.W.) under the arms and threw her down the embankment into the ditch area. After the fall, L.W. was breathing but unresponsive.

The child was carried into the residence where Whiteshield bathed the girl, put pajamas on her, and put her to bed alongside her twin sister, M.W. During all this time, the child remained unresponsive.

Whiteshield did not seek medical attention for the child and instructed the other children not to tell anybody what had happened to the girl. The following morning, Whiteshield went in to wake up the child and found her “cold and blue.”

During a subsequent interview with law enforcement, Whiteshield said she intentionally threw the child down the embankment because she was depressed about having to care for the kids all the time.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Janice M. Morley and Megan A. Healy prosecuted the case.