Steffanie Kautz pleaded no contest to charges of voluntary manslaughter, Friday, in the death of 14-year-old Breana Bodge. Bodge’s body was found in a Roswell apartment. The teenager died in May 2011 as a result of diabetic ketoacidosis or diabetic coma. Kautz was charged initially with child abuse resulting in death of a child because the girl was in Kautz’s care at the time.
The original affidavit of criminal complaint reported that the family knew Bodge was a severe diabetic. Kautz’s boyfriend and Breana’s father, Michael Bodge, was working at a well site at the time of the death.
Defense contended that Kautz had done what she could to notify the family, but the father did not reply to her calls because his cell phone was out of range of any local towers. When he did receive Kautz’s call, he returned to Roswell to find Kautz sleeping next to his daughter, who was unresponsive on the floor.
The trial that took place in Chaves County District Court from March 11 through March 13 resulted in a hung jury. The jury expressed doubt about the use of the word “wholly” in New Mexico Uniform Jury Instruction. To qualify for a guilty verdict the defendant had to be “wholly indifferent” to the child’s condition.
Bodge and other family members testified that Kautz exhibited concern about the girl and had made many attempts to get help, short of taking Breana to the hospital.
Kautz was also charged with child abuse of her own child, a 1-year-old, who tested positive for methamphetamines at the time of the incident. She also pleaded no contest to the charges of possession of a controlled substance.
Her sentencing hearing will be held April 26. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a person either intentionally or unintentionally and qualifies as a first-degree felony, but it is also listed a third-degree felony, depending upon the severity of the crime. First-degree felonies have a sentence of up to 18 years in prison or less, while third-degree felonies can result in three years imprisonment in a state prison.