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Woman charged in 6-year-old's death unfit to stand trial

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 court was awaiting the report at a June hearing. The prosecution or defense has 10 days from the time a report is received to challenge the findings. 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 the court is successful in having Downer committed, her case will be resumed when she has completed treatment. Downer's next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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