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N. Idaho baby sitter won’t face death penalty

Wed., April 24, 2013, 8:39 a.m.

LEWISTON, Idaho — Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against a North Idaho woman charged with killing a 2-year-old girl she was babysitting.

The Lewiston Tribune reports the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s Office earlier this week filed a motion stating the death penalty will not be sought against Natasha N. Hodges, 29.

“It’s just not a case that warrants a death penalty,” said Nez Perce County Prosecutor Dan Spickler. “Death penalties are reserved for the worst of the worst of the worst cases, and this just doesn’t qualify.”

A grand jury earlier this month indicted Hodges on a first-degree murder charge in the Aug. 30 death of Rylee Mingo. Hodges pleaded not guilty last week.

Lewiston police said the young girl and an older sibling had been left in the care of Hodges when their mother went to work. The younger child began to have breathing difficulty and Hodges called an ambulance.

Prosecutors said the child died of internal bleeding after being struck in the abdomen by Hodges.

Spickler said a death penalty should be sought if certain aggravating factors in a first-degree murder case exist. None of those factors are present in the case against Hodges, he said.

“Even if an aggravating factor would have applied, it still would not be the kind of case that would justify seeking the death penalty,” Spickler said.

Idaho law requires a first-degree murder charge for a death during the commission of an aggravated battery of a child younger than 12.

A scheduling conference to determine a trial date is set for May 15. Hodges is free on $50,000 bond.

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