A 28-year-old mother from Boise, Idaho, was sentenced on July 22 to 18 years in prison in connection with the death of her two-month-old son, according to a press release from the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office.
Honorable Ada County District Judge Patrick Miller handed down a life sentence with a fixed 18-year term, after which Radue will be eligible for parole, the release says. Prosecutors recommended a a life sentence with 30 years of fixed imprisonment, the release adds.
On May 11, 2020, police were called to Radue’s home regarding an unresponsive infant, the release says. Two-month-old Dawson arrived at the hospital, where doctors found a skull fracture and a brain injury, the release explains. Police arrested Radue that same day, charged with injuring a child, though she was later released, according to a report by KTVB7 at that time.
Dawson died in the hospital at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 15, according to the release.
Police arrested Radue again that night, charged her with first-degree murder, and held her in Ada County Jail on a $1 million bond, said KTVB7.
Ada County Coroner Dotti Coroner Dotti Owens declared that Dawson McKinney died from “traumatic closed head injuries”, KTVB7 reported.
At Radue’s bond hearing, prosecutor Kai Wittwer wanted to keep the bond at $1 million, claiming that Radue kept changing her story regarding what happened to her infant, KTVB7 reported.
Wittwer described to the court how Radue called 911 herself from a neighbor’s house, allegedly unable to find her phone when her infant’s breathing became labored, KTVB7 said.
“The defendant initially reported to an officer her son had been sick and vomiting for several days, and that he had been to the pediatrician during the previous week,” Wittwer told the court, according to KTVB7.
An ER doctor alerted police to the child’s alarming injuries, which Wittwer described in graphic detail to the court, KTVB said.
“The baby had two areas of bleeding on the brain, he also had a skull fracture and reportedly had gone without breathing to cause brain injury. The baby had suffered severe injuries to his brain and hundreds of retinal hemorrhages in both eyes,” Wittwer described, KTVB7 said.
Wittwer explained that Radue told police the baby was screaming nonstop, and in frustration, she picked him up from the changing table and put on the floor much more forcibly than she’d intended, saying it wasn’t intentional, KTVB7 reported.
However, Wittwer added that she also claimed the injuries happened as a result of the dog jumping on the couch and accidentally knocking the infant to the floor, and that she’d tripped and the baby broke her fall, KTVB7 said.
“The defendant’s statements about what happened, suggesting unintentional conduct, are not consistent with the severe and catastrophic injuries that the baby suffered,” Wittwer told the court, agreeing with investigators who concluded that Radue’s stories were inconsistent with the infant’s injuries, KTVB7 said.
Edwina Elcox, Radue’s defense attorney, called the $1 million bond “outrageous”, considering Radue had grown up in Boise and had all her family and social ties to the community, KTVB7 reported. Despite the police giving Radue a no-contact order to stop her from seeing her child, she had been given a one-hour hospital visitation, which Wittwer confirmed was supervised by a police officer, KTVB7 said.
Elcox also pointed out that Radue had little criminal history beyond a misdemeanor inattentive driving charge, and was not likely to be a flight risk, KTVB7 reported. She added that Radue had been employed before the pandemic, but she had been laid off, KTVB7 said.
In April 2022, Radue pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and entered an Alford plea, which means she maintained her innocence, but admits the prosecution has plenty of evidence with which to convict her, KTVB7 reported. This type of plea is treated the same as a traditional one in terms of sentencing, according to KTVB7.
“Failure to take responsibility is a major concern here for the court. We want to set a very high standard for parents and for people taking care of children,” Judge Miller stated during the defendant’s sentencing, the press release says.
“I extend my sincere and deepest condolences to Dawson’s loved ones who suffered a devastating loss. My team and I take these cases very seriously. I am grateful for the Meridian Police Department’s thorough investigation on this case,” Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts said, quoted by the press release.