Maine’s top court upholds mother’s sentence in baby manslaughter case

1 month ago

PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld a Caribou native’s sentence on Thursday in the 1985 death of her infant daughter. 

Lee Ann Daigle was indicted by a grand jury on one count of intentional, knowing or depraved murder in 2022. The following year, Daigle pleaded guilty to criminal negligence  manslaughter.

Last summer, Superior Court Justice Stephen Nelson sentenced Daigle to 16 years, all but six suspended, with three years probation. Daigle appealed the sentence in a Portland court last week.

During sentencing, Nelson said that for 37 years Daigle did not step forward or take responsibility even when it was clear that she was the target of the investigation.

“She essentially discarded and dumped the baby in the snowbank. It was below freezing, and there can be no real claim there was not certainty that such action would in fact result in the death of that baby,” said Nelson in Houlton Superior Court.

On appeal, Daigle, 60, argued that her sentence was illegal because the court used current sentencing guidelines in its analysis, instead of adhering to the 1985 guidelines. Daigle also argued that the court deprived her of her due process during sentencing.

The State refuted Daigle’s claim, saying the sentencing court correctly considered and applied the laws in effect at the time of the crime when sentencing Daigle, according to the state’s brief.

The sentencing judge referenced repeatedly that the court must apply the laws in effect at the time the crime was committed, said Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani during the Supreme Court hearing earlier this month. 

Daigle is currently housed in the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.