Plea, Sentencing in Toddler Death Delayed

By Beacon Staff

KALISPELL (AP) – A woman who was scheduled to enter a no contest plea in the death of a 3-year-old boy who drowned in her septic tank did not show up for court, apparently because of a paperwork mix up.

Tommie Cates was scheduled to appear in Justice Court Wednesday to enter a no contest plea to misdemeanor negligent endangerment for her role in the January death of Loic Rogers. Her sentencing hearing was to follow.

Cates’ attorney said he didn’t receive notice of the hearing, according to the Flathead County attorney’s office.

Prosecutors suggested a paperwork mix up at the defense attorney’s office may have been to blame.

A new court date has not been set.

When the continuance was announced, members of Loic’s mother’s family erupted in disapproval.

“My family and I, we’re in agony waiting for something to be done about this,” said Ariel James, Loic’s mother. “This was my chance to say what I needed to say to her, and she’s trying not to give me that chance.”

Loic’s father, Mark Rogers, and his three children had been at Cates’ house on the evening of Jan. 24. As Rogers was getting his children in the van, Loic disappeared.

The boy’s body was found in Cates’ septic tank on the night of Jan. 26 after an intensive community search.

The riser on the septic tank had been damaged about a month earlier when a vehicle backed into it, making it impossible to bolt the lid in place. The boy’s death was ruled accidental.