Mother charged with infant’s death as they slept in same bed

A Hennepin County criminal complaint filed Thursday accuses a St. Paul mother of killing her infant daughter by lying on top of her while the two were sleeping in the same bed at a home in Dayton.

Authorities said Justice Ellis, 20, had been drinking when she caused 28-day-old Nyomi Portillo-Ellis to suffocate on Aug. 16. Ellis is charged with second-degree manslaughter.

An autopsy listed the cause of death as mechanical asphyxiation and listed unsafe sleeping conditions as a contributing factor.

Ellis told officers she had six drinks the night before. She said she stopped drinking about 1 am and went to bed about an hour later. She took the newborn to bed with her, and her partner took another baby with him, police said.

A witness said he came into the room later that morning and said the baby was partially under Ellis and was “really white.” Another witness had to pull the baby out from under Ellis’ leg, the complaint said. The infant was declared dead at the scene.

Court documents do not list an attorney for Ellis.

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