Woman facing charges after baby's death returns to jail

Posted: Wednesday, October 06, 2004

ANCHORAGE - A woman convicted of manslaughter in the death of a baby will spend two months in jail awaiting sentencing even though she's already spent five years in prison for the crime.

An attorney for Michele Dague, 35, argued that she should be released but a prosecutor insisted she be jailed even though the time she served after her first trial may cover her sentence in the second trial.

Dague was convicted Friday of manslaughter in the 1997 death of Kyle Tellsworth, a 10-month-old baby in her care.

It was her second trial for the homicide. In 1998, an Anchorage jury convicted her of second-degree murder, and she served almost six years of a 20-year sentence.

That conviction was overturned on appeal.

Jurors in the retrial acquitted her of murder, finding her guilty of the lesser crime of manslaughter, which is punishable in this case by five years in prison, less time than Dague has already served.

Dague has been free on bail since last year when her new trial was ordered. However, the law says people convicted of a violent felony must be taken into custody until sentencing, which is set for Dec. 3.

Defense attorney Elizabeth Brennan said lawmakers never imagined a situation like the Dague case.

Judge Philip Volland also questioned why Dague should return to jail.

"What interest is being served" by making the defendant serve more time? he asked prosecutor Marcy McDannel.

"It's the law," McDannel said.

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