- Associated Press - Thursday, August 6, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A South Dakota woman who authorities said left her two young daughters to die in North Dakota is residing at a halfway house in Mandan until she is sentenced, after making and later withdrawing a request to stay with a convict she’d met in jail.

It’s the latest development in a case that’s included jailhouse rants and a seemingly lenient judge.

Rosebud Sioux member Michelle Wounded Face is to be sentenced Sept. 2 on child abuse and neglect charges to which she pleaded guilty in June. Authorities said Wounded Face abandoned her 2- and 4-year-old daughters in a car in a rural area of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, where she was living at the time, without adequate clothing for the bitter-cold January weather. They survived and are living with their father.

Authorities said Wounded Face exhibited more strange behavior in jail, drinking toilet water and claiming to be the daughter of gods. She also said at her arraignment that she had gone on a monthlong hallucinogenic-drug binge after the death of a close aunt and did not remember leaving her children. She also told U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland that she had gotten sober in jail and was taking prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.

Hovland ordered Probation and Pretrial Services to put Wounded Face on a waiting list for a halfway house.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Ryan Costello filed a request June 12 for a detention hearing, saying Wounded Face wanted to be released into the custody of a Jamestown woman whom she had met in the Stutsman County jail. The woman had a history of misdemeanor driving, substance abuse and bad check convictions but no felonies, Costello wrote, and she was working to turn her life around and felt she could help Wounded Face.

Costello did not detail the circumstances of the meeting in the document. Federal Public Defender Neil Fulton declined comment, citing attorney-client privilege. A telephone listing for the woman could not be found.

Costello later withdrew the motion, saying only that “Michelle no longer wishes to be released to (the woman’s) residence and is content waiting on the wait list for release to a residential re-entry center.”

Wounded Face was transferred to a halfway house July 1.

She could get up to 10 years in prison but also could be sentenced under federal guidelines to time served, about six months. Hovland has said he’d like to see Wounded Face get help rather than a lengthy prison term.

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