Katie Elaine Lewis wiped away tears as she stood before a Ramsey County District Court judge Friday and admitted to pinching the nose of her 5-month-old son, stopping him from breathing.
Lewis, 24, pleaded guilty of domestic assault by strangulation in the May 2 incident at Children's Hospital in St. Paul, in which she allegedly was caught on a surveillance video suffocating her child, Carson.
Lewis, ofLitchfield, Minn., had brought the child to the hospital for testing, saying that the infant would stop breathing, turn blue and then regain consciousness, according to a criminal complaint.
After extensive monitoring and observation of the child, the hospital staff told Lewis that they could find nothing wrong with the boy and that he would be released within a few hours, the complaint said.
Shortly after that, a nurse watching the monitors of the video cameras in the child's room saw Lewis pinch the child's nose shut while also covering his mouth area, the complaint said. The child kicked frantically and then went limp and medical staff rushed into the room to revive him, the complaint said.
In court, Lewis admitted that she cut off the baby's airway for about 45 seconds, and that he stopped breathing and a monitor went off.
According to the criminal complaint, Lewis told police that starting in February 2012, the child stopped breathing and turned blue a number of times at her home in Hutchinson and in hospital rooms, but each time she was the only adult present.
"After describing each incident and repeatedly saying how frustrated and stressed she is by having virtually all the child care responsibilities for (Carson) and her older child, Lewis finally admitted she 'snapped' and did something very wrong," the complaint said. "She said she wanted (Carson) to 'do something' so medical staff could 'find something' and 'help' (Carson) more quickly."
In return for pleading guilty to the domestic assault charge, prosecutors will drop third-degree assault and child endangerment charges. She will be sentenced Feb. 20.
Lewis' lawyer, Michael Davis, said his client has no prior criminal history. He said sentencing guidelines call for a stayed prison sentence of one year and one day. But he and prosecutors will argue whether or not she also deserves to spend time in jail. Davis said a psychological evaluation also will be recommended.
Davis said Lewis has contact with her 3-year-old son, but very limited contact with Carson pending a McLeod County District Court proceeding to determine her parental rights.
Richard Chin can be reached at 651-228-5560. Follow him at twitter.com/RRChin .