Woman pleads not guilty to killing 4-year-old

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota woman accused of beating to death a 4-year-old boy because he wet his pants has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against her.

Donika Gonzales, 22, of Gann Valley, faces alternate counts of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, along with alternate counts of aggravated assault and felony child abuse.
Alternate counts means a jury could convict her on only one of the two charges. The murder charge carries a mandatory life prison term upon conviction.

Gonzales on Feb. 21 allegedly abused and killed Mason Naser, the son of the man she was living with in the central South Dakota community. Authorities allege Gonzales slapped, kicked, shoved and stomped Naser to death after he wet his pants.

Defense attorney Donna Bucher on Monday unsuccessfully requested a reduction in the $30,000 cash bond for her pregnant client, The Daily Republic newspaper reported.

"She's never failed to appear in court," Bucher said. "Donika is pregnant with her baby due in June and there are issues with nutrition that are ongoing."

Bucher asked that Gonzales be allowed to post 10 percent of the bond, be put on house arrest and be allowed to stay with a relative in Fort Thompson.

Brule County State's Attorney David Natvig asked Judge Bruce Anderson to raise the bond to $1 million, calling the boy's death "a heinous crime" and saying he feared problems getting
Gonzales back to court if she were allowed to stay in Fort Thompson, which is on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation.

Anderson kept the bond at $30,000 but also issued several orders aimed at ensuring Gonzales receive proper medical treatment while jailed, such as ordering the sheriff's office to track her diet and medical care.

"I want to make sure everyone is paying close attention to her medical needs under these circumstances," Anderson said. "I don't want anything with respect to that pregnancy overlooked. I can't make that clear enough today."