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Woman charged in Bemidji girl’s exposure death found incompetent

BEMIDJI - The woman charged with manslaughter in her 6-year-old cousin’s death has been found incompetent to stand trial.

Rachel Stacey Downer, 22, of Bemidji was charged with second-degree manslaughter in March after her cousin, Mercedes Mayfield, was discovered dead from hypothermia outside a south Bemidji apartment complex Feb. 27. Mayfield was in Downer’s care the night before she died.

Beltrami County Attorney Tim Faver said Downer’s case has been suspended at this time. The court ruled Downer incompetent based on a court-appointed examiner’s report. Examiners are usually local psychologists, Faver explained.

The report was distributed July 29. Faver said the findings will not be challenged.

“If the court finds a person not competent, law requires (the) court to institute civil commitment proceedings to restore a person to capacity,” Faver said. “We don’t convict people who are not competent.”

If Downer is committed, her case will resume when she has completed treatment. Downer’s next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.

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