Mother Charged In 2007 El Reno Baby's Choking Death
EL RENO, Oklahoma - A two-year-old little girl choked to death on beads wrapped around her neck. The highly publicized tragedy happened more than five years ago. Now, the mother of 2-year-old Jezebel Donnell is charged in connection with the child's death.
At the time of the toddler's death, in January 2007, investigators said the mother, Casie Basford, refused to take a lie detector test and then left the state only ten days after her husband discovered their little girl dead.
Jesse Donnell immediately called 911.
"What's going on?" the dispatcher asked.
"I think my baby is dead," a panicked Donnell replied.
"Why do you think your baby is dead?" the dispatcher responded.
One of several questions left unanswered, until now. The father of 2-year-old Jezebel Donnell could only speculate as he described the scene to police,
"I think she had gotten a hold of some beads," said Donnell. "I think that Casie flipped out and murdered Jezebel,"
Ellen Landgraf, Jezebel's great aunt, and other family members begged prosecutors to file charges on Basford.
The Canadian County District Attorney in office at the time of the incident declined to file charges even after an investigation found Basford was on drugs, including methamphetamine, and was not taking medications prescribed for her mental health condition.
"Most parents are distraught if they lose a child, but I don't think it ever affected Casie a bit," Landgraf said.
But Landgraf explains she and the family refused to give up their fight for justice.
Now, more than five years later, current district attorney Michael Fields has reopened the case. Court records show Jezebel not only had trauma to her neck, but investigators also found signs of neglect to teeth, fingers and toes.
The reports also references deplorable living conditions for the child including sleeping in a bed with cigarette butts, all evidence in the child abuse case against the mom.
Canadian County District Attorney Mike Fields could not be reached for comment on why he decided to revisit this case. The preliminary hearing for Basford is set for October 19.