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Bail reduced for Red Lake Falls woman accused of killing baby

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RED LAKE FALLS, Minn.—A Red Lake Falls woman accused of killing a 2-month-old child can get out of jail for $50,000, if she abides by certain conditions.

A Red Lake County District Court judge on Wednesday, July 11, ordered Sarah Leah Kortan, 30, to be held on a $500,000 bond without conditions after being charged with second-degree murder. She was taking care of her cousin's infant when the baby girl stopped breathing June 20 at Kortan's home.

The child was taken to Sanford Health in Thief River Falls, which is about 18 miles from Red Lake Falls, and then airlifted to Fargo, where she died June 22 after being taken off life support.

Medical staff said they found "little to no brain activity" in the child, and "it appeared to possibly be shaken baby syndrome," according to court documents.The injuries were "not consistent with an accidental fall but were sustained from inflicted trauma," according to a news release from the Red Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Kortan can be released from jail if she pays $50,000, but she would have to obey certain conditions. She would not be allowed to enter the child's residence, contact the child's family, have contact with children under the age of 18 or attend the child's funeral, among other stipulations.

Kortan told officers the child hit her head on the stove and then the floor, court documents said. She also said she killed the baby, according to charging documents.

The child's mother is serving time in prison, but neither has been identified by investigators.

Kortan declined to speak to media as she was escorted by deputies from the courthouse in Red Lake Falls in handcuffs. Her attorney, Christopher Cadem, said he is waiting for the facts to come out in the case.

Matt Henson of WDAZ-TV contributed to this report.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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