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Woman charged with manslaughter in 6-year-old girl's hypothermia death

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BEMIDJI - The Bemidji woman who was arrested last week in connection with the February hypothermia death of a 6-year-old girl, has been charged with second-degree felony manslaughter.

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Court documents released Monday said Rachel Downer, 22, is accused of causing the death of another through committing or attempting to commit child neglect or endangerment. The charge carries a possible penalty of 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both, according to the court documents. Mercedes Mayfield, 6, was found dead at the apartment building she lived at in south Bemidji on Feb. 27. Autopsy results showed she had died of hypothermia after being exposed to frigid conditions.

Downer is the cousin of Mercedes and had been babysitting at the apartment the day before.

The criminal complaint said Downer left the apartment in the evening, after the girl’s mother, Malika Peoples, had gone to sleep, Mercedes helped carry some items to Downer’s car. Downer said she saw Mercedes re-enter the building before she drove away. Peoples awoke to find her daughter missing, then saw her on the front step.

Downer's next court date is March 24. The court set unconditional bail at $100,000. Downer bailed out Monday, according to Beltrami County Jail officials.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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