Donika Gonzales, of rural Gann Valley, pleaded not guilty on April 15 to all of the charges against her.
The 22-year-old woman is accused of beating to death a four-year-old boy in February because he wet his pants.
Gonzales faces alternate counts of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, along with alternate counts of aggravated assault and felony child abuse. The murder charge carries a mandatory life prison term upon conviction.
Authorities allege Gonzales abused and killed Mason Naser, the son of the man she was living with at the time.
The Mitchell Daily Republic newspaper reports her attorney unsuccessfully requested a reduction in her $30,000 cash bond, saying Gonzales was pregnant and there were “issues with nutrition.” The judge issued orders to ensure Gonzales received proper medical treatment.
An affadivit by state Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Tyler Neuharth recounts the alleged events that led to Gonzales’ arrest.
At approximately 4:41 p.m. February 21, Buffalo County Sheriff Wayne Willman received a call from Tyler Naser, the affidavit says, who reported his son, Mason, was unresponsive and not breathing. Naser requested an ambulance be sent to his residence in rural Gann Valley. Willman and a team of paramedics arrived at the address a short time later and learned Naser had taken Mason across the street to Naser’s father’s residence, where Willman found the child still unresponsive and not breathing, the affidavit says.
Mason was transported to Sanford Chamberlain Medical Center and was pronounced dead at 6:14 p.m., the affidavit says. Hospital personnel noted multiple bruises, scratches and abrasions on the four-year-old’s body, which appeared to be in different stages of healing, perhaps indicating the injuries occurred over an extended time period, the affidavit says.
Gonzales is being held in the Brule County Jail in Chamberlain. She will next appear in court in May.