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Request for acquittal denied in Shane trial

WORTHINGTON -- A request for acquittal or dismissal of count two in the State of Minnesota v. Lisa Shane trial was denied on Thursday by Judge David Christensen.

Count two is a charge of second-degree murder -- felony murder by child neglect.

Chief Public Defender James Fleming told the judge there was no evidence that the failure to render medical aid contributed to the death of 3-month-old Ashanta Chavarria. Christensen acknowledged that the child would not have had a normal life, but said there was evidence that she may have lived.

The infant died in November 2004 after Shane brought her to the hospital Oct. 28, 2004, with closed head trauma. The death was later ruled as homicide. Shane was charged in 2005 with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of child neglect.

The jury was shown a video of the Oct. 29 interview with Shane conducted by the Sioux Falls, S.D., Police Department. In the video, Shane repeatedly denied hurting her child and said only she and her sister had been with Ashanta that day.

"I could not believe my sister would do this either, but I did not do this," she said.

When initially asked if the baby's father, Jose Chavarria, could have hurt the baby, Shane said she didn't think so. She denied that Chavarria was at her home in Adrian on Oct. 28, which is the day he was released from jail.

Shane later changed her story and said Chavarria had been at her residence for a short time, but that nothing had happened. She said the two adults had argued and Chavarria pushed her, causing her to drop the baby, who hit her head on a metal futon frame.

During an interview video taped on Nov. 22, 2004, with Special Agent Paul Soppeland from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), Shane added she had fallen when Chavarria pushed her -- contradicting what she told the Sioux Falls detective.

When asked about the healing rib fractures and old blood found in the baby's skull, Shane had no explanation.

"I know you love your children. There's no question about that," Soppeland told Shane. "But I do question your truthfulness. ... We can prove Jose wasn't there and you are lying."

Shane insisted on the video that she had nothing to do with her daughter's injuries.

"He's walking the streets doing drugs as we talk and I'm here missing my children and my daughter is dead," she said through tears. "I've lost everything I have."

She told Soppeland that Chavarria had often hit her in the face, punched her in the stomach, and slapped and spanked her other three children.

During testimony from Shane's former daycare provider, Gloria Riessen, Assistant Attorney General William Klumpp asked Riessen if she had ever seen any marks on the children or Shane that may have indicated abuse.

"No, I did not," Riessen said.

Riessen, who had watched Shane's older two children for a year, said the children were well-behaved and always clean and tidy.

"She had her hands full and was doing the best job she could do," Riessen said. "Lisa was one of my best moms."

As the trial went into recess Thursday, it was still unclear whether or not Shane would testify on her own behalf. Closing arguments are expected to be offered at some time today.