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Chuck Haga, Forum News Service, Published June 24 2013

Spirit Lake toddler laid to rest as stepgrandmother's hearing on abuse charge postponed

GRAND FORKS - A detention hearing for Hope Whiteshield, accused in the death last week of a Spirit Lake Nation toddler, was postponed Monday to Wednesday.

Richard Henderson, assistant federal public defender for North Dakota, has been appointed to represent Whiteshield, 31, who remains in federal custody at the Grand Forks County Correctional Center.

Under a previous court appointment, Grand Forks attorney Theodore Sandberg represented Whiteshield at her initial court appearance on Friday, when in a criminal complaint she was charged with willfully inflicting serious bodily injury on a child by throwing her down an embankment on June 12.

Henderson filed several requests with the court Monday, including one asking that the government provide the defense with the general nature of all evidence it intends to present at trial.

The child, Laurynn Carmen Clarah Whiteshield, identified in the criminal complaint only as LW, was a month shy of 3 years old when she died at a Devils Lake hospital June 13.

She was laid to rest Monday following a wake and prayer service Sunday that began with a procession from Devils Lake to St. Michael, N.D., where she had lived with her grandfather, Freeman Whiteshield, and her step-grandmother, Hope Whiteshield, and other family members.

The girl had been given the Dakota Indian name of Zikana Ska Win, or White Bird Woman, according to an obituary notice prepared by Gilbertson Funeral Home in Devils Lake. The notice said she was a direct descendant of noted Sioux chiefs Suna Waanatan I and Suna Waanatan II.

She and her twin, Michaela Whiteshield, were born on July 19, 2010, in Bismarck. According to information provided by federal authorities to U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., last week, the girls were in foster care in Bismarck for about two years until they were returned to Spirit Lake in May by order of the Tribal Court.

Laurynn’s father, Fabian Whiteshield, lives in Bismarck, according to the obituary notice. Her mother, Davia Skinner, lives on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Laurynn also is survived by another sister, Heavenlee Whiteshield, whose age and residence were not immediately available.