Bemidji woman sentenced in death of 6-year-old left in sub-zero cold


The babysitter charged with leaving her 6-year-old cousin to freeze to death in the cold Bemidji air last winter will spend the next 10 years on probation.

Rachel Downer learned her fate in a Beltrami County courtroom on Monday, after having been convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the death of Mercedes Mayfield, KSTP reports.

According to Forum News Service, the 23-year-old was tearful at her sentencing, during which the presiding judge stayed a 32-month prison sentence.

Before the sentencing, Mayfield's mother said "I don't feel sorry for Rachel" and expressed difficulty in coping with her daughter's death during the reading of an emotional statement, Forum says.

According to court documents, an apparent misunderstanding caused Downer – who was later ruled incompetent to stand trial due to mental illness – to leave Mayfield outside the apartment where she lived with her mother, reportedly assuming she'd be able to find her way back into the house.

Instead, the girl was found outside dead of hypothermia the next day, after a night when temperatures were as low as 27 degrees below zero.

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