Sentencing delayed for mother convicted of daughter’s murder

TULALIP — A Tulalip woman convicted of murder in the 2012 death of her young daughter won’t learn her punishment until early next month.

Christina Carlson was scheduled to be sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The hearing was pushed back to Aug. 4.

Carlson, 38, pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder and criminal mistreatment. Lawyers have agreed to recommend a sentence between eight and 13 years. A federal judge isn’t obligated to follow the attorneys’ recommendations. Carlson faces up to life behind bars.

Her daughter, Chantel Craig, 1 ½, suffered from severe malnutrition and died after paramedics found her. Chantel and her sister, 3, were living with Carlson in a car on the Tulalip Indian Reservation.

The girls had sores all over their bodies and were covered in feces, lice and maggots. Chantel wasn’t breathing when paramedics reached her. They were unable to revive her. The older girl was unconscious and suffered seizures. She was treated for dehydration and skin sores from prolonged exposure to feces and urine.

The girls were kept buckled into their car seats for hours. Carlson hadn’t changed their diapers for days despite having an unopened package of clean diapers in the trunk of the car. The girls also hadn’t been adequately fed in several days, possibly longer.

Evidence also showed that Carlson smoked heroin in the car with the girls inside.

The day that Chantel died Carlson left them alone for several hours to visit with nearby neighbors. She used their phone in an attempt to buy drugs. The neighbors eventually persuaded her to go check on the girls.

Chantel wasn’t breathing and her other daughter wasn’t responsive. She ran back up the road and called 911.

Carlson and the girls had for months been the focus of on-again, off-again searches by state and tribal child welfare workers. Their grandmother called Child Protective Services in December 2011 with concerns that the girls were being neglected.

Carlson had lost custody of at least three other children because of her drug use and neglect, court papers said.

In a terrible coincidence, state social workers closed the investigation hours before Chantel died. They hadn’t been able to find her or Carlson. The woman and her daughters had for weeks been living in her car down a dirt road on the reservation.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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