Stephens County Choctaw native avoids murder count with guilty plea to reduced charge of child abuse
Earlier this week, CAITLYN CHEYENNE DOWNS, 24, of Stephens County, pleaded guilty to child abuse in Indian Country, according to U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester.
On December 7, 2022, a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment against Downs, charging her with murder in the second degree and two counts of child abuse.
The indictment alleges that between May 11, 2022, and September 20, 2022, Downs willfully failed to protect two minor children from harm or threatened harm and that Downs was responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the children. The harm resulted in the death of one of the children.
On August 29, 2023, Downs was charged by a one-count Superseding Information with child abuse.
At a hearing on Monday, September 11, 2023, before United States District Judge Stephen P. Friot, Downs pleaded guilty to the single-count Superseding Information. At the hearing, Downs admitted that she was responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the minor children and failed to protect them from harm to their health and safety.
This case is in federal court because Downs is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the alleged crime occurred within the boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation.
At sentencing, Downs faces up to life in federal prison and a fine of up to $5,000.00. As part of a plea agreement, the government has agreed to dismiss the Indictment at sentencing, based on her guilty plea to the Superseding Information. Sentencing will take place in approximately 90 days.
This case is a result of an investigation by the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office and the Duncan Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany Edgmon and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kaleigh Blackwell are prosecuting the case.