Baby Lucian’s mom pleads guilty to starving him to death in 2015, father awaiting trial 

A Bellingham parent has pleaded guilty to neglecting her 3-month-old infant in 2015 until he starved to death.

Brittany Shane Daniels, 26, pleaded guilty Wednesday, Nov. 6, to one count of second-degree manslaughter for the death of Lucian Mykael Shields. Daniels’ sentencing is tentatively set for Jan. 14, 2020, according to Whatcom County Superior Court records.

Lucian’s father, Cody James Shields, 27, is also charged with second-degree manslaughter. Shields pleaded not guilty Feb. 26, 2016, and his trial is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 27, 2020, according to court records.

An autopsy found Lucian died Dec. 8, 2015, at the age of 3 months and 13 days, from malnutrition, dehydration and “neglect of ordinary care of an infant,” according to the county medical examiner’s office. Lucian’s weight was 9 pounds and 7 ounces at death. He had gained about 17 ounces since birth, court records state.

According to charging documents, Shields allegedly stayed up all night playing video games on the night before Lucian was found dead. Shields fell asleep around 7 a.m., and didn’t check on the baby until the late afternoon, court records state.

Shields said he often wore headphones while playing video games in the living room, and kept the baby’s door closed. Shields said sometimes he couldn’t hear Lucian crying, court records state.

Shields said he fed the baby three times in the night and early morning hours before Lucian died, court records state. He twice propped the child’s 6-ounce bottle of formula on a blanket, as he often did, and left the room, the court records show.

Shields told police he believed Daniels had left for work around 9:30 a.m., but said he wasn’t sure if she fed Lucian.

Lucian was found dead in his crib at 5 p.m.

infant death 2
Brittany Shane Daniels, 22, center, and Cody James Shields, 23, right, make their first appearance in Whatcom Superior Court at Whatcom County Jail, Feb. 19, 2016, in Bellingham. Shields and Daniels are charged with second-degree manslaughter. Evan Abell

Daniels told police that Shields was the primary caregiver for Lucian, because the baby was sleeping in his room, but that the pair shared the responsibility of feeding him, court records state. She said she usually fed Lucian in the evenings because Shields would fall asleep, the records show.

Daniels said she had also fed Lucian late in the evening and early in the morning prior to his death, records state.

A witness stated that both parents “were often irritated” with Lucian because he cried frequently and that they both often fed the baby by propping up his bottle, according to court records.

An autopsy determined that Lucian had no fat on his body and that it looked like he had very little to eat for days, court records state. Whatcom County Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Goldfogel determined there was nothing else obviously wrong with Lucian that could have caused his death “beyond malnutrition, absence of feeding for a prolonged interval, and gross neglect,” the court records show.

Lucian’s manner of death was listed as homicide, and his cause of death was listed as undetermined, with the mechanism as dehydration and malnutrition, according to court records.

lucian memorial
A memorial in Maritime Heritage Park Feb. 24, 2016, for Lucian Mykael Shields, who died in December at age 3 months. Lucian’s parents are charged with manslaughter for his death Philip A. Dwyer

The parent who fed Lucian late in the evening and early in the morning prior to his death was corrected Nov. 7, 2019.

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.