The jury returned deadlocked, Thursday, on the matter of State of New Mexico versus Steffanie Kautz after three hours of deliberation. Kautz was charged with one count of child abuse resulting in death. Judge Charles C. Currier threw out the additional count of child abuse, saying that the State had failed to meet all the requirements on the second charge.
During their deliberation, the jury expressed confusion with the use of the word “wholly” in New Mexico Uniform Jury Instruction that stated to qualify for a guilty verdict the defendant had to show that she was “wholly indifferent” to the child’s condition.
The charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on May 3, 2011, in the 1200 block of West Hobbs Street, after 14-year-old Breanna Bodge died in Kautz’s care. Breanna, a brittle diabetic, complained about feeling unwell and went into a diabetic coma without medical treatment.
Defense argued throughout the trial that Kautz had shown care and concern when she tried to contact Breanna’s father as the child’s condition continued to deteriorate.
The two primary witnesses during the third day of the trial were Dr. Ian Paul of New Mexico’s Office of the Medical Investigator, and Dr. Brad Randall, a medical examiner from South Dakota brought in to testify for the defense. The two experts presented divergent points of view about the medical evidence.
Paul reported that Breanna died of diabetic ketoacidosis, acute pancreatitis and bronchial pneumonia which had been further complicated by the girl’s use of methamphetamines. He noted that DKA would eventually lead to heart failure. Paul said he could not say whether pancreatitis was a precursor to the DKA or a result of it. However, he said that methamphetamines added further stress on the heart.
OMI ruled the death an accident because New Mexico law says any death where illegal drugs are found in the toxicology report is automatically deemed accidental. Paul asserted that Breanna could have been treated with insulin and intravenous fluids despite the coma up until the time of death.
Meanwhile, Randall referred to the ruling of accidental death as a peculiarity of a New Mexico laws not observed in any other state. He said anywhere else in the country, the death would have been considered natural. He debated whether Breanna could have been successfully treated, saying that Breanna may have received treatment, but whether she would have survived was not a medical certainty.
Because the jury was unable to reach a verdict, Currier declared a mistrial.
A docket call to set up second trial was scheduled for April 1.