Mom of toddler found dead in backpack in creek pleads guilty

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Posted: Mar 27, 2015 5:03 PM
Mom of toddler found dead in backpack in creek pleads guilty

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The mother of a 1-year-old Maryland boy found dead inside a backpack in an Ohio creek pleaded guilty Friday to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering.

Dainesha Stevens wanted to take responsibility for not taking action when a friend of hers beat the child intending to rid him of demons, said her defense attorney, Mark Collins.

"It was the first step for her taking responsibility for her inactions ... and not doing more to protect her child," Collins said.

Stevens also agreed to cooperate and be truthful in any proceedings against that man, who is expected to face prosecution soon in Franklin County.

Authorities needed the mother's help to prosecute the man, who has been jailed on a suspected probation violation on a gun charge but is not yet charged in this case, county Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said. He said the case could be presented to a grand jury as soon as next week.

"He's the one that physically assaulted and abused the child over a period of time," O'Brien said. "She, as the mother, had a duty to not stand by and tolerate it, and she violated that duty."

Columbus police found the body of Stevens' son, Cameron Beckford, on the city's east side Dec. 31. The coroner said the boy had bruises on his lower back, kidneys and lungs, and bruises and scarring on his buttocks.

His mother initially told police she left the boy on a stranger's porch but later changed her story, directing them to the creek and providing more information about the man who had beaten her children.

The man believed that Cameron had demons and that beating him was the only way to get rid of them, Collins said. The man injured the toddler on Dec. 25, and when Stevens later found the boy unresponsive, they put his body in the bag and left it in the water nearby, Collins said.

He said Stevens stayed with the man in Columbus after she left Frederick, Maryland, in mid-December.

The prosecution and defense are recommending a 12-year prison sentence for the 25-year-old Stevens, whose sentencing is scheduled July 23. She would be eligible to seek release after nine years if she fulfills her agreement with prosecutors and has no problems in prison.

Cameron's sister, now 7, reported also being disciplined by the man and is now back in Maryland with her father, Collins said.

Those allegations of physical contact didn't rise to the level of abuse, the prosecutor said.

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Associated Press reporter Andrew Welsh-Huggins contributed to this report.