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Tulalip mother pleads not guilty after death of toddler
TULALIP — A mother of two toddlers was ordered held on $75,000 cash-only bond on Thursday, Oct. 11, after pleading not guilty to two counts each of criminal endangerment and failure to support or care for a dependent person, after her children were found alone in a car and in need of medical attention on the Tulalip Tribal Reservation on Monday, Oct. 8.
Christina Carlson, a 36-year-old Tulalip tribal member, placed the call notifying police of the condition of her two daughters. While 2-and-a-half-year-old Juanita Craig is in stable condition at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where she continues to receive care for dehydration and a severe rash, her 17-month-old sister Chantal Craig was found unresponsive at the scene, transported to the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett by Marysville Fire personnel, and later pronounced deceased. The results of Chantal Craig’s autopsy are unavailable while the investigation remains underway.
Tulalip Tribal Police had received a call about an unresponsive infant at approximately 4:47 p.m. on Oct. 8, and emergency services were dispatched to the 1000 block of Marine Drive. According to charging documents, Carlson committed the four Class E offenses on or about Wednesday, Sept. 19, through Oct. 8, and is being held at the Snohomish County jail while the death is investigated. If she’s able to post bond, she must undergo mental health and chemical dependency evaluations, and is prohibited from drinking alcohol, taking prescription drugs or having contact with children under 18 years of age. The incident is being investigated by Tulalip Tribal Police in coordination with the FBI.
Tulalip Tribal Court Associate Judge Gary Bass — who allowed Carlson to wear a blanket over her body and head, and ordered that her face not be photographed in court — set a pretrial conference date of Monday, Oct. 29, a trial readiness hearing date of Monday, Nov. 19, and a jury trial date of Wednesday, Dec. 5, to meet the speedy trial window of 60 days, prior to Monday, Dec. 10. Tulalip Tribal Police Chief Rance Sutten acknowledged that the U.S. Attorney’s Office could bring more severe charges against Carlson.
“We’ve been following the normal processes, so this timeline is pretty typical,” Sutten said. “This will be a labor-intensive investigation, but we’ve got a lot of dedicated professionals and we’re doing everything we can to look at everything.”
In Sutten’s opinion, the Tulalip tribal community is already close-knit and has come together even more strongly to support each other in the wake of this tragedy. Tulalip tribal members both mourned their collective loss and offered each other reassurance during a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11, near the property where the children were found, in the 1000 block of Marine Drive.
“We can grieve and be sad and ask, ‘Why, why, why?’” Cy Hatch said. “But while Chantal has lost her physical life, she’s gone on in her spiritual life. She won’t have the opportunities to grow up with her friends or learn alongside our other little ones, but she’s with our creator now. That might not take away our sadness, but we should remember that.”
“Nothing is harder than saying goodbye to a baby,” Veronica Craig said. “But I’m at peace because I know Chantal is in Heaven, being taken care of by her family who’s gone before, and I know we’ll see her again.”
Carolyn Moses, a friend of Chantal Craig’s family, thanked her fellow Tulalip tribal members for gathering to provide the family with what she deemed as a sense of closure, and credited Cerissa Ramsey, who sung “Amazing Grace” that evening, with playing a key role in coordinating the candlelight vigil.
“When we stand together, arm in arm, I feel the strength of our ancestors, lifting all our families up,” said Moses, who also asked those in attendance to spare thoughts for Chantal Craig’s surviving relatives, including her mother and her recuperating sister.