Woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in the death of 2-month-old son

Published 2:53 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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Amended plea part of a plea deal


A woman at the heart of a 2022 manslaughter case in which she was accused of the suffocation death of her two-month-old son has amended her plea to guilty.

Jocelyn Leslie Pater, 26, of St. Paul and formerly of Glenville, amended the plea on the sole count of second degree manslaughter as part of a plea agreement during what was supposed to be a scheduled pre-trial hearing Wednesday in Mower County District Court.

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According to court records, Pater will be sentenced on Oct. 25.

Pater originally pleaded not guilty over a year ago on June 23, 2022, to the manslaughter charge as well as three other felony counts of child endangerment, exposing a child to drugs and fifth degree drugs possession. 

The child died on Dec. 17, 2021, four days after he was discovered with no pulse in the 400 block of 27th Street Southwest in Austin where Pater and he had been sleeping on a couch.

According to the court complaint, when Pater was questioned, she told police that she fell asleep on the couch with the child and was awoken later by another woman who discovered and pulled the child away.

The woman who discovered the child said she found the child with its face in Pater’s chest and that he was purple and blue. The child was taken to a neighbor’s apartment where mouth to mouth was performed until police got there.

The medical examiner’s autopsy report later revealed that the infant died due to overlay while co-sleeping with an adult. Prior to that, an MRI showed diffuse anoxic brain injury, which is caused by a complete lack of oxygen to the brain. A follow-up CT scan also showed diffuse anoxic brain injury as well as injuries to the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia and midbrain.

Toxicology results came back positive for methamphetamine, though, it was unclear whether or not the presence of meth had any contribution to the cause of death.

The neighbor told police that the child had been witnessed earlier in the day and that he had been breathing and alert, but the neighbor also told police that she believed Pater had been using meth because of jittery, erratic behavior.

Another witness said she had seen Pater at a laundromat earlier and observed her to be staring at a wall and was jittery, telling police she thought Pater to be “high.”

Pater told detectives that she hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but had been asleep for about an hour.

Pater told the detective that she hadn’t used (drugs) again since learning she had become pregnant, but then later claimed that she found some (expletive) in her apartment and relapsed. 

She admitted that she got high the day before around noon, but that she was sober the day her son was discovered. She allegedly said, “My son isn’t going to die because I’m on drugs, that’s not what caused this.”

A search of Pater’s residence turned up a loaded syringe filled with what appeared to be meth in a purse. Police also discovered a digital scale, three needles in Pater’s bedroom, a meth pipe on the bed near the baby bottle, a bag of .08 grams of meth, a bottle nipple and baby bottles containing liquid.

The bottles and nipple were sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension where the nipple tested positive for meth.

Eventually, Pater allegedly admitted that she had been using it daily and that it started about three weeks prior. The urine analysis tested positive for both amphetamine and methamphetamine.