Shreveport mother's murder conviction reversed

Published: Oct. 16, 2012 at 10:50 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 30, 2012 at 10:51 PM CDT
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Satonia Small
Satonia Small
Satonia and Sha'Jaberne Small
Satonia and Sha'Jaberne Small

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The Louisiana Supreme Court has reversed the 2nd degree murder conviction of Satonia Small, the Shreveport mother whose 6-year-old daughter died in a fire after being left home alone.

Sha'Jaberne Small died of smoke inhalation after a kitchen fire broke out in her mother's apartment in January 2008. Satonia Small was convicted of second degree murder in August of 2010. Her attorneys appealed, arguing that prosecutors never proved that Small was directly responsible for the death of her daughter. "There's no evidence that if she'd been home she would have been able to save the kids or prevent the fire," says Small's attorney, Christopher Hatch.

On Tuesday, the Louisiana Supreme Court agreed, publishing an opinion reversing Small's second degree murder conviction and entered a conviction for negligent homicide.  "After reviewing the facts and the applicable law, we find that a conviction for second degree murder cannot be supported in this case, where defendant's criminally negligent act of leaving her young children alone in the middle of the night was not a "direct act" of killing, but was instead a criminally negligent act of lack of supervision which resulted in her child's death."

Small, who was serving a life sentence without possibility of parole, now faces a maximum sentence of five years of imprisonment. She's already served more than 4 years and 9 months. Her case has been remanded to the Caddo Parish District Court for sentencing on the reduced charge.

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