Covering Louisiana

Nov 13, 2012 10:32 AM by AP

Manslaughter plea by stepmother in child's death

BENTON, La. (AP) - An Elm Grove woman faces up to 25 years in prison in the death of her 5-year-old stepdaughter.

The Times of Shreveport reports that Catherine Lowe accepted a plea deal on Monday.

Lowe pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Celeste Lowe in January 2011. She had been charged with second-degree murder and would have faced life in prison if convicted on that charge.

Catherine Lowe is to be sentenced Dec. 18 in Benton, the same day her husband, Wesley Lowe, is to go on trial on a charge of negligent homicide.

The Lowes brought Celeste to a Shreveport hospital Jan. 13, 2011, claiming the child had a stomach virus.

Hospital workers determined the child had been dead for hours. An autopsy suggested possible child abuse.

Her guilty plea Monday brings a good conclusion to a

Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin said the guiltyi plea brings a good conclusion to a case that was "factually difficult to prove."

While prosecutors were able to establish that Catherine Lowe was with Celeste at the time of the child's death, he said, they couldn't prove exactly what caused her to die. There were no eyewitnesses, Marvin said.

"Twenty-five years is a very long time. I'm very comfortable with it. I would have liked to have gotten more."

Catherine Lowe's attorney, Randal Fish, didn't comment.

Celeste's mother, West Monroe resident Jamie Mercer, said she left the Bossier Courthouse "semi-satisfied" Monday although much remains to be determined, "I'm not going to say justice has been served completely. It has been a little bit. I have a long way to go."

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