Woman pleads guilty to burning girlfriend’s baby to death

Louisiana News

Felicia Smith is charged with first-degree murder in the burning death of 6-month-old Levi Cole Ellerbe of Natchitoches. (Source: Natchitoches Police Department)

NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) — A 28—year-old woman has pleaded guilty to burning her girlfriend’s infant son to death, and has agreed to testify against the other woman.

Felicia Marie-Nicole Smith pleaded guilty Wednesday in Natchitoches Parish to manslaughter, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and cruelty to a juvenile, news agencies reported.

She swayed as she answered Tenth Judicial District Court Judge Desiree Duhon Dyess’s questions Wednesday, The Town Talk reported.

“I understand everything I’m doing,” she told Dyess.

Authorities have said that firefighters called after a passing motorist reported a ditch fire on July 17, 2018, found 6-month-old Levi Cole Ellerbe, then still alive. He died the next day at a hospital.

His mother, Hanna Barker, had reported him kidnapped more than an hour before the fire was reported. She was arrested less than two weeks later.

Barker, 25, is charged with first-degree murder, which can be punished only by death or by life in prison, and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Her trial is scheduled Sept. 27, with jurors brought from St. Landry Parish to Natchitoches.

Smith has said the killing was Barker’s idea. Barker has denied taking any part in her son’s death. Her attorney has argued that Smith was accusing her to get a better deal for herself.

Smith will be formally sentenced on Oct. 27. but has agreed to 80 years at hard labor — the maximum for each charge, served consecutively.

That includes 40 years for manslaughter, 30 for conspiracy and 10 for cruelty to a juvenile

Smith’s plea agreement states that prosecutors can reinstate a first-degree murder charge against her if she fails to testify truthfully, KTBS-TV reported.

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