Child abuse death case re-opened in Burleigh County

Cassandra Black Elk
Cassandra Black Elk(KFYR-TV)
Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 11:02 AM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - A district court judge ordered a new trial for a 27-year-old who pleaded guilty to child abuse after a 3-week-old was found dead in her care.

Prosecutors said Cassandra Black Elk of New England, N.D. was the sole adult at the scene where a baby died in February 2022. She told police she swaddled the baby and went to sleep, but when she awoke the baby was dead. Prosecutors say she had been intoxicated at the time.

Black Elk pleaded guilty to child abuse last August and Judge Daniel Borgen sentenced her to five years in prison, with all but one and a half years suspended.

Now, Judge Borgen vacated the prison sentence and set a new trial date for May. The judge determined her attorney gave Black Elk improper advice when she entered her guilty plea by not letting her look at the autopsy report until after the fact.