McDade pleads guility to four counts of negligent homicide
By Paul Kedinger
Shaqueta McDade pled guilty to four counts of negligent homicide Wednesday, Dec. 18, before District Judge John Trahan in the death of her four unattended young children who perished in a mobile home fire on Saturday, April 21, 2012.
Each plea carries a potential five-year sentence, meaning McDade could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison. Judge Trahan has ordered a pre-sentence investigation.
Charges against McDade were upgraded from negligent homicide to second-degree murder on Monday, April 23, 2012, following the fire which claimed the lives of Brian Stiener, Jr., a 2 year old male; Lashay McDade, a 5 year old female; Amous Mouton, Jr., a 7 year old male; and Jamari McDade, an 8 year old male. Funeral services for the youngsters was held May 5, 2012, at Starlight Baptist Church.
A fifth child in the family, Tyron, was staying with relatives and escaped the fate of his siblings.
Rayne City Judge Jim Cunningham originally set bond for Shaqueta McDade at $250,000 for each of the four charges of second-degree murder.
District Judge Edward Rubin reduced McDade’s bail, originally set at $1 million, to $40,000 during a bond reduction hearing on May 9, 2012, and she was released after posting the reduced bond.
Firefighters from the Rayne Fire Volunteer Department and Rayne Police were dispatched to the fire at 1506A Edith Street. Upon their arrival, the mobile home was found engulfed in flames.
Several neighbors tried to enter the trailer to rescue the children, but were driven back by the heat.
A neighbor described the blaze as intense, with flames rising above the trees. Firefighters remained on the scene about three hours.
After extinguishing the fire, firefighters discovered the four young occupants had not escaped the fire. The bodies of three of the children were discovered at the back door and one was found in a rear bedroom, according to Fire Chief Barry Granger.
Granger reported a chain was hooked on the front door but the door was unlocked.
After detectives with the Rayne Police Department conducted an interview with the children’s mother they determined the children had been left unattended. Following the police investigation, Chief Carroll Stelly said McDade was at a club in Church Point when the fire broke out Saturday.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Frederick “Fritz” Welter.
Welter explained the plea to negligent homicide instead of second-degree murder was based on a Louisiana Supreme Court vs. Satonia Small ruling. In that similar case in Caddo Parish where the mother was found guilty of second-degree murder, the Justice ruled because there was no evidence of intent to kill a child, the most the mother could be found guilty of was negligent homicide.