- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A South Dakota woman who authorities said left her two young daughters to die in North Dakota won’t serve any more jail time if she continues getting her life turned around.

Rosebud Sioux member Michelle Wounded Face pleaded guilty in June to child abuse and neglect charges and was sentenced Wednesday to the six months she’s already served behind bars, and three years of supervised release. She’ll spend up to the first six months of her probation in the Mandan halfway house where she’s been living since July 1. She also must pay a $200 court fee.

Authorities say Wounded Face in January abandoned her 2- and 4-year-old daughters in a car in a rural area of the Fort Berthold Reservation, where she was living at the time, without adequate clothing for the bitter-cold weather. They survived and are living in Minot with their father. He and Wounded Face are divorcing.

Wounded Face told an FBI agent after her arrest that she had left the children in the car to die. She had planned to rely on an insanity defense until U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland ruled in mid-May that she was competent to stand trial after she underwent a mental health examination at a Federal Bureau of Prisons medical center in Texas.

Wounded Face told Hovland during her arraignment in June that she had gone on a monthlong hallucinogenic-drug binge late last year after the death of a close aunt and did not remember leaving her children. Authorities said she exhibited odd behavior in jail following her arrest, including drinking toilet water and claiming to be the daughter of gods.

Wounded Face on Wednesday told Hovland that she is taking steps to rebuild her life, including getting a full-time job at a fast-food restaurant, seeing a counselor and getting reacquainted with family, including her mother and sister who were in the courtroom. Wounded Face and her family declined comment after the sentencing.

“I’m very sorry for what I did to my girls,” Wounded Face told Hovland. “It’s very hard for me. … I miss them every day.”

Hovland told Wounded Face that she seemed to be “a very pleasant, smart young lady.”

“I really hope you can get on the right track here,” he said.

Wounded Face said her goal is to get her own apartment and enroll in college. Hovland ordered her to also complete any substance abuse or mental health counseling or treatment her probation officer deems warranted.


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