A South Dakota woman was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in federal prison for the brutal 2016 beating death of her 2-year-old son, which occurred less than two months after she regained custody of the boy.
Katrina Pauline Shangreaux, 30, who is also known as Katrina White Whirlwind, pleaded guilty March 20 to second-degree murder in the death of Kylen Shangreaux. The boy died of blunt force trauma July 28, 2016, at Shangreaux’s home in Porcupine, a small community on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Angie Shangreaux, Kylen's paternal aunt, had custody of the boy for about 14 months, a majority of his life, before Katrina Shangreaux regained custody June 1, 2016, through Oglala Sioux Tribal Court. Angie Shangreaux, 38, described for Native Sun News Today what Kylen's life was like in her home.
“A lot of people think ‘Oh he’s just another abused and neglected Native American kid,’” Shangreaux said. “There’s so much more to his life. That wasn’t his life. That was the last fifty-eight days of life.”
She told the newspaper that Kylen’s life was filled with laughter and love before he was returned to his mother. She described him as a “good boy” who loved Chicken Little, Home, Lego Batman 2 and Cars.
His favorite meal was breakfast.
"He loved to eat waffles," Shangreaux said. "He would sit and drink coffee with me. He called it 'foffee.'"
Angie Shangreaux's Facebook page, along with one titled Justice for Kylen, is filled with photos and videos of a smiling, happy Kylen. In one video on the Justice for Kylen page, the toddler and his aunt tell the camera good morning and giggle.
“I love you, Ky,” Shangreaux says.
“I love you more,” Kylen responds.
As Shangreaux starts to say, “I love you the most,” Kylen says, “Most!” The boy laughs.
A statement of fact filed in federal court in March, when Katrina Shangreaux entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors, details the crime, which U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken on Tuesday described as "horrific, depraved, torturous (and) humiliating," according to the Rapid City Journal.
[Warning: The following details are graphic.]
Shangreaux, who said she had consumed a large amount of alcohol and taken the pain medication Tramadol before her son’s killing, admitted in the court records that she returned home the night of July 27, 2016, and became angry when she found that her son had wet the bed. Shangreaux and Kylen lived with her other children and her mother, Sonya Dubray.
“She took him to the bathroom and tried to force him to use the toilet,” the statement of fact said. “Shangreaux perceived (Kylen) was being defiant and that made her even angrier.”
Shangreaux admitted she hit her son multiple times, including with a studded belt, and put him in the corner as punishment. Her anger grew, she said, when the boy gave her a “sideways look.”
When the toddler accidentally called her “Angie,” she became infuriated.
“Shangreaux despised (Kylen’s father’s) sister Angie,” the statement said.
Katrina Shangreaux admitted in the statement of fact that, after her son called her by his aunt’s name, she threw the boy to the floor and repeatedly kicked him in the abdomen and head.
“She stopped only when she saw that he appeared different and she realized how badly she had injured him,” the statement said.
Shangreaux also bit the boy multiple times and caused damage to his genitals.
"The most shocking was the damage that she did to his scrotum," Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Collins said during the sentencing, according to the Journal.
The newspaper reported that the toddler’s genitals were “practically obliterated” by the beating. According to court records, his scrotum was torn and a long hair had been wrapped around it and his penis.
Shangreaux told Dubray what she had done, the statement of fact said. At some point early the following morning, the mother and daughter sat Kylen at the kitchen table with Shangreaux’s other children and tried to get him to drink some apple juice.
He became more unresponsive and fell on the floor, where he soiled himself. His mother and grandmother cleaned the boy up -- and cleaned the crime scene with bleach -- before calling an ambulance, court records showed.
Shangreaux told police when she called 911 that Kylen had choked on his juice and stopped breathing, the Journal reported.
When the ambulance arrived, Kylen was in clean clothes and there was no visible blood on his body, according to the statement of fact.
“Shangreaux did not accompany (Kylen) to the hospital,” the document said. “Instead, she had three cigarettes, then found a ride to Pine Ridge, where the hospital staff told her (Kylen) had died. She fled, to White City, Nebraska, and later to Rapid City.”
Rigor mortis had already set in and Kylen’s body temperature was 90.7 degrees when he was pronounced dead around 8:30 a.m., according to the record. The treating physician estimated that he had been dead for about four hours.
Emergency room doctors saw belt and bite marks on the boy’s body and found that he had a skull fracture and possible abdominal injuries.
The pathologist who conducted the boy’s autopsy reported that he had bruises over most of his body.
“He noted (Kylen) suffered extensive and severe bruising over 70 percent of his body and this also likely contributed to his death, as the blood pooling at the bruises may have deprived his organs of sufficient blood,” the statement of fact said.
The Journal reported that the pathologist found 111 distinct external injuries, including what appeared to be cigarette burns on his head. He also suffered broken ribs and bleeding in his abdomen and brain.
Shangreaux was initially charged with multiple crimes, including first-degree murder, assault resulting in serious bodily injury of a minor, felony child abuse and neglect. Those charges were reduced to a single second-degree murder charge in the plea deal.
Read the facts Katrina Shangreaux admitted to as part of her plea agreement below. WARNING: The document contains graphic details of Kylen Shangreaux’s death and may not be suitable for some readers.
The toddler’s paternal relatives hoped for a life sentence in the case, the Journal said.
"You're the last person who can give Kylen the justice he deserves," Angie Shangreaux told the judge prior to Katrina Shangreaux's sentencing. "I'm begging for what would be a lifelong sentence for her."
Angie Shangreaux and her mother, Patti Shangreaux, told the court how much Kylen was loved and wanted by their family, the Journal reported. They described how he loved to run around in his diapers.
Kylen also loved music and playing on the computer with Angie Shangreaux’s sons. Before taking her seat following her victim impact statement, Angie Shangreaux told the boy’s mother she hated her.
"I will never forgive you," Angie Shangreaux said, according to the newspaper. "You deserve hell."
The grieving aunt told Native Sun News Today that she has been haunted by the knowledge of what her nephew, who she considered one of her own children, went through before he died.
"It took a toll on me emotionally. I literally just checked out," Angie Shangreaux said. "The thoughts of what he suffered that morning. The thoughts of what it was like the last fifty-eight days invaded my mind constantly. The fact that he cried for me when she was killing him."
Dubray was charged in September 2016 with being an accessory to first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, making a false statement and concealment of a felony. Prosecutors allege that she helped Shangreaux evade authorities, concealed the abuse of her grandson and misled investigators about the extent of the abuse.
Aside from helping her daughter clean up the crime scene, Dubray is also accused of washing the clothes Kylen was wearing when he was abused to hide evidence, court records show.
Her indictment states that Dubray also lied to investigators from the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs when she told them that Kylen was potty-trained. The boy was still in diapers, they learned during the investigation.
Dubray is scheduled to stand trial in November.
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