Will Charges in Baby Death to Follow Kitsap’s Example?

Inside the Mason County jail, Shawna M. Doidge, 22, of Shelton, awaits possible charges county prosecutors could bring against her.

The Mason County Sheriff’s Office and Child Protective Services have been building a case against her since her 19-month-old son Nickolas’ (pictured) drowning death April 19.

The sheriff’s office has finished its investigation, which concluded in her arrest Tuesday. Their recommendation: a second-degree negligent homicide charge, under the state’s felony murder statute.

If prosecutors elect to charge it that way, it wouldn’t be the first negligent homicide charge on the Great Peninsula in recent years.


Many of you will recall Kitsap County Prosecutors’ case against Richeal Rhoades, then 22, was found guilty by a judge of second-degree murder due to the December 2005 neglectful death of her daughter, Brenda, in Jackson Park.

In that case, there was discussion of possible charges being either second-degree murder or first-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors, obviously, chose the former, and Rhoades received an 18-year sentence.

Will Mason County Prosecutors follow Kitsap’s example? Only time will tell. I spoke with elected prosecutor Gary Burleson this morning, who told me she’ll make a preliminary appearance in court, but it is highly unlikely charges will be filed today.

Police believe Doidge was on social-networking site MySpace.com when she heard the calls of Nickolas’ 2-year-old brother from the bath tub.

She attempted CPR, called a neighbor, and then called 911 at about 11:30 a.m., according to police reports.

“The mother had essentially left the 19-month-old victim, Nickolas, and his 2 year old brother in the bath tub alone for several minutes while she sat at her computer at the other end of the house,” according to Mason County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Dean Byrd.

The family lived at an East Pickering Road home near the Graham Point and Bay Shore Communities about 9 miles north of Shelton.

The investigation, involving the sheriff’s office and Child Protective Services, concluded Doidge’s behavior was “consistent with neglect,” Byrd said.

Nickolas J. Doidge was taken to Mason General Hospital then transported to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, where he remained on life support until his death six days after the incident.

Doidge will be held at the Mason County jail without bail on suspicion of second-degree felony murder. Mason County prosecutors will have 72 hours to develop formal charges against her.

29 thoughts on “Will Charges in Baby Death to Follow Kitsap’s Example?

  1. A terrible thing for sure.
    The article is a little light on facts.
    Look forward to more specifics on this one, especially if she is formally charged with Murder.

  2. If people think this kind of neglect is unusual, think again. Chatrooms and Myspace are filled to the brim with parents more interested in flirting online or talking to their friends than they are in the welfare of their children. I’m frankly surprised (and relieved) we don’t hear about this kind of crap more often. SHAME on this mother!

  3. this woman’s headline on her myspace reads, “MY KIDS ARE MY LIFE” and she states “I really would not know what to do with out my Kids by my side and in my arms” i do not know this woman, but i feel deeply for her loss, and find it hard to believe that someone expressing those sentiments was intentionally neglectful. it is more likely that she was simply – as we all have been at one time – young and inexperienced enough not to think through the possible consequences of her actions–in other she made a MISTAKE.

    when i look back on those early years in my own parenting experience, i know that for a young mother to grasp how very fragile her children’s little lives are is nearly impossible and practially ineffectual–that every second they are out of our sight – and some when they are not – is an opportunity for disaster.

    when my daughter was about 4 years old, we were at a county fair. i took my attention away from her for not more than half a minute and she was gone from my sight. the 20 minutes or so it took to find her seemed like an eternity! a few years later, i helplessly watched her take a nasty tumble off of her bicycle right in front of me as i was riding my own. i could name any number of other fleeting moments that could have ended much worse than they did.

    certainly NO PARENT raises a kid from 0 to adulthood without making mistakes in parenting. and nothing but providence – whether you believe that to be chance, god or fate – determines which of those will prove to be critical missteps.

  4. Now this young woman has lost everything. When reading that the baby may have been under water for 5 minutes it gave me a flash from the past. A little girl that drown in her pool as her father was supposed to be watching her. He was in the house and that 2 year old was in the pool dead for possibly 45 minutes. Both parents being nurses were never even questioned about neglect, The sad part is this child was continually walking on a dirt road unattended. Neighbors were continually bringing her home. She rarely had more than a diaper on if she had kept that on. The difference is these were professional people with a different appearance than a 22 year old on a computer. Yet the father was playing a PS2 for hours during the day. Sad to see that because of ones outer appearance they are allowed to make a much worse negligent mistake and nobody takes a second look.

  5. I have to agree with Elaine on this one. Case in point…look at that poor missing girl in Portugal. Her parents left her and her twin 2-year old siblings ALONE in a hotel room while they were off eating! Now the child is missing and the parents are living high on the publicity. Good grief, I just read this morning that they got to shake the hands of the Pope!!! Instead of being the media darlings, they should have been arrested for negligence and had their other two children taken away from them! If it were most of us, we’d be sitting there rotting away behind bars already and our children living in foster care.

    As for this drowning case, personally, this young mother has my pity. I can’t think of a worse punishment for any mother, than to have to live for the next 60 plus years knowing that because of her negligence, her child died. That sentance is longer than any court can give her.

  6. It is inconceivable to me that anyone would leave young children alone in a bathtub of water for any reason.

    That said, losing her child is. a hard lesson for this young mother…. and a wake-up call for others inclined to be so careless.
    I hope she can get counseling and forgive herself.
    Sharon O’Hara

  7. I dont even know if we could call this negligence. I do not believe for one second this young mother did not care about her child. She made a mistake. Picture 2 kids in a tub laughing able to sit up by themselves. Odds are that many children have been left for a couple of minutes in that situation and did not drown. This is so sad not only for the mother but especially his brother. I have always been a little over protective with little ones, but do know many people even people in professions that care for children that are probably guilty of far worse scenarios.

  8. I have to agree with Sharon. There was no reason to leave those children alone for even a second, but especially for MySpace. I made mistakes with my child, but never put her in harms way. If she was in the bath and the phone rang – voice mail picked up. If the doorbell rang – it went unanswered. I most certainly never left her alone to check my e-mail. This is not doubly negligent. I wouldn’t call this a “mistake”. A mistake is allowing a child to sleep an extra hour during nap time and messing up her/his bedtime. Elaine, what’s a far worse scenario? The child DIED because this mother thought being on the internet was more important and leaving her 2 year in charge.

  9. The far worse was the little girl in the bottom of a pool for 45 minutes while her father played playstation. the siblings to that child somehow survived total neglect for their safty. Those are the parents that were both nurses and one of them at a childrens hospital. I never left my own children for a second in or near water either. This woman will suffer for the rest of her life for a two minute lapse in good judgement. Being a parent has a lot of tough calls and times have changed. Remember riding a bike when helmets were not even thought of! Now a days that is putting a child in harms way. My older children never wore helmets they did not even sell them for kids back then. or what about the seat belts that were not required by law unti the late 80’s. God forbid the carbeds. I know there is a huge difference between drowning and head injuries. Both can potentially kill. I still do not believe this woman ever imagined her baby would die in a couple of minutes. Nor do I believe she should be imprisoned for maybe 20 years. People in glass houses should never cast stones. There is not a parent in the world that has never had a lapse in judgement.

  10. I don’t believe we have heard all of the facts in this case. The sheriffs office wouldn’t be recommending this sentence without good cause. Some of you have stated other cases in which you believe the parent has gotten away with murder. So do you believe that all parents should be excused for neglect? As I read the law, negligence is a crime and death caused by negligence constitutes homicide. Why anyone would ever leave babies in a bathtub unattended for a second is beyond me. As you take in your next breath imagine you are breathing water, thats all it takes. To choose the computer over the safety of your babies in the bathtub is negligence-not a mistake-a choice. I’m sure it was not an emergency that could not wait for her to chat on myspace. I wonder how many times she used the bathtub as the babysitter in the past.

  11. Parents are human…and have ‘learning experiences’.
    I don’t believe that all parents lapses of judgment could directly cause the death of a child.
    Leaving two young children alone in a bathtub of water for any reason is or should be, a crime of neglect.
    A two year old is a baby left with a younger baby, usually smaller and weaker. Babies push and shove…a natural part of their development
    They deserved their mothers full attention. It doesn’t matter what the mother was doing…she left them alone.
    She left her babies in a precarious place. One of them died.
    Sharon O’Hara

  12. I do not see any difference in either tragic story. Both of these precious children died because their parent left a child unattended while doing something that could have waited until after their own child was safe in bed or sitting next to them. May it be playing a game or being on the computer. In addition, it doesn’t matter one bit if it was 45 minutes or 5 minutes, both parents allowed their child to suffer and die because they were selfish and horrible parents. This is a sure case of child abuse and negligent.

  13. Then obviously the police/courts felt in the first case it was a horrific accident and that the father had not put his child in danger on purpose like the mother who left her baby in a bath to check her e-mail. In addition, there’s no way the police didn’t “question” this father and his actions. We’ll never know,(I’ve only read what you have written) but with this woman she knew exactly what danger she put her child into the second she walked out of the bathroom door and sat down at her computer. Her jail sentence won’t be long enough…

  14. “selfish and horrible parents” – wow, that’s a pretty harsh judgment to be passing down on someone you didn’t even know personally. Sometimes people do things that aren’t necessarily the right thing to do for reasons other than malice–it’s called making a mistake. Everyone has lapses in judgment at times and I seem to recall reading these words in red: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

  15. In response to CMC, I do know this girl personally and I do think she knew it was wrong to leave those boys alone. I hope she gets punished to the full extent that she can and maybe she will straighten up. I feel bad for baby Nick and his brother Ryan. Even though Ryan is only 2, he had to watch his brother die and no one young or old should have to witness that. Now Ryan will have to grow up without his brother and his mother because of her immature and selfish act.

  16. alisha, it is a breath of fresh air to hear from someone that is real. Cmc spouse of coarse they asked the father where he was, they just did not act in the same manner with a professional as they did with a 22 year old. That man knew from the moment he stopped watching his daughter to play games he was placing her in danger. He was a trained professional in child trauma. Still both of these families carry a burden more than most could imagine. The loss of a child is the worse kind of hurt one could ever endure. Parents that lose a child in any kind of accident always have the what ifs or only ifs. My prayers are with this young mother.

  17. Ms. Ehrhardt,
    For someone to preach about casting a stone you should be the last person to make such a comment. You are well educated in the criminal justice field of home invasions,a DUI and your children taken from you. Answer the other 99% of us that believe this woman (I have a hard time calling her a mother who feels My-Space is more important than watching over the safety of two children.) needs to be behind bars for a long period of time a simple question: Had that been your child that you had asked her to watch and the same tragic situation happened, would you be simply stating this was a “mistake” and her punishment should be a slap on the hand for a “mistake”? Before you judge those that know the difference between a mistake and negligence (I agree child abuse as posted before) maybe you should follow what you preach and obey the laws yourself. Hopefully this woman will sit behind bars and every waking moment wonder if her judgment to be on the computer was more important then the safety of her child…that she killed.

  18. Chris A, first of all my DUI was dismissed… The part of my post was meant to show that CPS had a BAC before blood ever got to a lab to be tested. My children suffered. My homes have been robbed that does not make me educated that makes me an unlucky victim. As for my children being removed!!! Keep an eye on state lawsuits theirs is ready to roll on their 18th birthdays. You see I don’t live in a glass house and I do not cast stones I am honest and would never pretend to have been perfect nor would I ever begin to believe I have the right to judge someone I knew nothing about except what has been in the paper. I have speculated on a situation based on what has been published and compared it to another I have first hand knowledge of.

  19. Today I took the time to check things out concerning this young mother. It is apparent that some charges will be filed. Not murder. she has been released on a 5000.00 bond. There will be an arraignment I believe the 16th on whatever charges the prosecutors can convince the Judge there is probable cause for. Good lesson for some that have this woman facing lethal injection in their own minds. She will get due process since she is in the criminal courts.

  20. I don’t have a foil hat on or a crystal ball to read minds Elaine. In case your trying to get into mine, no I don’t think that she should get the death penalty. Bonds are posted all the time and people released to await arraignment unless they are considered to be a risk, even murderers. How do you know what the prosecutors are going to ask for? I think the lesson will come when there is either a plea agreement or a trial. The child’s father and family say that she was pretty much in the habit of being negligent. If so then it is too bad that she wasn’t stopped before she put myspace as her priority above her children just one more time….And yes, no matter what the outcome she will have to live with it forever. But what is far worse than that is that little Nick doesn’t get to live. Period. That is who I feel sorry for and who deserves justice.

  21. TJ, Five thousand is a lower bail than some shoplifters get. I do not know what the prosecutors will ask for I just know that probable cause for murder was rejected. As for the fathers family saying all those things. Do we really know if they are true? If she was so bad why did the father not take these kids? We can go on and on with the he said and whys till the cows come home. Time will tell on this one. Personally I have never seen anyone released on that low of bail for a crime involving the loss of life.

  22. Has anyone heard any new news on this story??? I am a relative that lives out of state and am wondering what is going on?? Thanks!

  23. I know this girl personally and have spent some time with her. It’s a very sad and devastating story and frankly from what I know of her I believe she was selfish and absolutely negligent. I have heard facts from family members and this is not the first time those boys were left unattended. Despite what her MySpace page might say I do not believe her kids were her life. Not for a second. Who has seen her on the news? She wasn’t upset, not a single tear. I won’t shed a tear for her if jail time is the punishment the court finds will suit her. I’m hurting for Nick and for Ryan.

  24. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” ??? Quoting the bible does not prevent anyone from making judgments, and calling this death a “mistake” is absolutely ludicrous. Sure, I made mistakes with my children but I never knowingly put them into dangerous or deadly situations. Everything can be ignored (telephone, computer, etc.) until a little one is safe. This woman has been judged and found lacking in parenting skills; it’s a shame that her inattention caused the death of an innocent child.

  25. First thanks for your replys, I miss Nic. Every day And would Love to change The out come of that Day! It has taken me Two Years to Read Your Replys. Because It Bring me back to that Sad Sad day, When I got the phone call on Base. To see your young son on life support for five long days, and the Doctor’s tell you he has no brain activity, Nic. was under water for twenty min the Corrner said. Having to unplug Him, Hold Him, and watch his young Body Die in 80min, and Send his Soal to Jesas. Is and all ways will be the hardert thing I have every faced. Thank To The Navy and all of your support! I still have Ryan and the support of my Family! Seving in Kuwait

  26. Father of Nik,

    What is the status of Shawnas arrest? Was she convicted? Is she in jail? I am a former family member from KS and just wondering what is going on? I am glad you have Ryan because I don’t think Shawna is mature enough to be raising children on her own.

    Thank you!

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