BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — A 38-year-old Baton Rouge woman has pleaded guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge in the 2006 asphyxiation death of her heavily-insured 2-year-old stepdaughter.
Shelna Jackson Matamoros was initially charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Malaysia Chante Matamoros. The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1gccpcD) she pleaded guilty Thursday to an amended charge of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
District Judge Chip Moore sentenced Matamoros under the terms of a plea agreement to 20 years in prison, giving her credit for the nearly three years she has been jailed since her 2011 indictment. More also suspended the balance of Matamoros' prison time and put her on active supervised probation for five years.
"I believe that this is the appropriate resolution," Assistant District Attorney Steve Danielson told the judge.
"You've been given a huge chance," the judge said to Matamoros. "Make the best of it."
The child's father, Cedric Matamoros Sr., 33, died in 2012 before prosecutors could bring him to trial on a first-degree murder charge.
Matamoros' plea failed to provide the toddler's mother with the answers she's sought for nearly eight years. Shantel Fountain said it was difficult to sign off on Matamoros' plea agreement.
"Hard decision, but I decided to allow God's will to be done," Fountain said outside Moore's courtroom. "I had to come to the realization that I may never find out what happened."
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Matamoros' conspiracy plea fits what the state's theory has always been: Cedric Matamoros killed his daughter to collect on insurance benefits from five different policies.
Prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty against Cedric Matamoros, a long-term dialysis patient. The murder charge against him was dismissed in January 2013 following his death.
Moore has said previously that the little girl was covered by five insurance policies totaling $185,000 at the time of her death, and Cedric and Shelna Matamoros were the beneficiaries. The child was pronounced dead Aug. 31, 2006. Two of the insurance policies totaling $110,000 were set to lapse Sept. 1, 2006.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com