Brooklyn Center woman pleads guilty to killing 10-month-old son
A Brooklyn Center woman has pleaded guilty to killing her son last spring.
According to online court records, 31-year-old Arneshia Cunigan has pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for the morning of Aug. 31. She faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both.
Cunigan was charged in January for the death of her 10-month-old son, who died on April 20, 2021.
A complaint states Cunigan called 911 around 8 p.m. that day after she found her son not breathing in their Brooklyn Center apartment.
When first responders arrived, they found Cunigan doing chest compressions on the boy on the living room floor, and the boy’s skin was blue and purple in color, the complaint states.
Documents go on to say Cunigan told first responders she had put her son down for a nap with formula about 10-30 minutes before she had called for help, and had called after seeing he wasn’t breathing while laying on his side in his crib, adding she thought the boy had choked on the formula since she saw milk coming out of his nose when she picked him up.
The complaint goes on to say she was told how to do CPR by a dispatcher, and had been doing so for about one minute before crews arrived.
Cunigan then told police she checked on her son twice – the first time, he was still drinking a bottle and the second time was about 30-45 minutes after he had been sleeping. She went to wake the boy up, and found he wasn’t breathing, so she told her older son to call for help. The complaint then says she called 911 herself.
The boy was pronounced dead just before 9:15 p.m.
An autopsy states there were no signs of choking, and there wasn’t any natural or anatomical cause of death, or any obvious fatal injury. However, the medical examiner said there were bruises around the boy’s mouth and nose, as well as one near an ear and under his lip, and the front and back of his torso. The complaint states the examiner’s findings are “consistent with death as a result of smothering or suffocation by blocking the victim’s airway.” Documents also say the bruises weren’t visible at the time of his death.
Eventually, police discovered Cunigan was the subject of a child abuse investigation during 2020, and had been charged with felony malicious punishment of a child, as well as third-degree assault. The complaint states a medical exam showed a cut under the boy’s lip, a fractured wrist and ankle, and probable fractures of a rib, the other ankle and wrist, as well as a knee. Court records show a hearing for that case is also currently scheduled for the morning of Aug. 31.
Both the boy, as well as his twin sister, were put in foster care until Feb. 18, 2021, and were returned to Cunigan’s care that day.
The complaint goes on to say a family member told police Cunigan would hit the boy, who cried all the time, and would “cover him up” when he did cry. In addition, a witness stated during a forensic interview Cunigan would choke and shake the boy, and when the witness tried to intervene, Cunigan pushed them away.
The witness also stated, according to the complaint, that Cunigan would put objects over the boy when he was crying. The complaint states the victim told authorities Cunigan put the boy down to sleep, gave him a bottle, and allegedly put a baby carrier that had been overturned over the victim.
The witness went on to say Cunigan wouldn’t hurt the boy’s sister “because she was Cunigan’s favorite.”
A complaint states the witness was also subject to abuse such as choking, hitting and punching.