By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 30-year-old Twin Cities woman is facing manslaughter charges in the death of her 10-month-old son, whom she had regained custody of just weeks before his death. She has been charged with abusing the boy last year.

Arneshia Cunigan, of Brooklyn Center, is charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection to the death of her son in April, court documents filed in Hennepin County show.

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According to a criminal complaint, Cunigan called 911 on April 20 to report that her son was not breathing. She told first-responders that she put the boy down with his bottle and when she checked on him roughly 20 minutes later he was lying on his side, not breathing. She suggested to first-responders that the boy might have choked on his milk.

Cunigan performed CPR on the child before paramedics arrived. The child was pronounced dead roughly an hour after the 911 call was made.

A medical examiner performing an autopsy on the child found that his mouth and nose were bruised, as were areas under his lip and one of her his ears. The boy also had bruises on the front and back of his torso. According to the complaint, the findings were consistent with death as a result of smothering or suffocation. However, the cause and manner of death are officially undetermined.

When asked by first-responders if the child had suffered any trauma, Cunigan denied it, the complaint states.

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The child’s death came following a child abuse investigation involving Cunigan and the boy in late 2020. In October of that year, Cunigan brought the boy to North Memorial Health Hospital reporting that he was feeling pain in his left arm. Doctors found the boy had suffered numerous injuries, including a dislocated elbow and fractures to his wrist and ankle.

Investigators said that Cunigan, who provided most of the child’s care, gave no plausible explanation for how the boy, who was 4-months-old at the time, had suffered such injuries. Doctors also ruled out any sort of genetic or metabolic bone disease. Other than the injuries, the boy was a healthy child.

In that case, Cunigan was charged with felony malicious punishment of a child and third-degree assault, the complaint states. The victim and his twin sister were placed on a health and welfare hold and put in foster care until Feb. 19, roughly two month’s before the boy’s death.

An older sibling, who lived with his mother and the two twins, told investigators in November that Cunigan would abuse his younger brother because he would “cry all the time,” the complaint states. He said that he saw his mother choke, shake, hit, and punch the victim. He added that Cunigan would put objects over the boy when he was crying.

On the day the child died, Cunigan gave the baby a bottle, put a blanket over him and placed an upturned baby carrier on top of him, the older sibling told investigators. He said that Cunigan didn’t abuse the boy’s twin sister because she was his mother’s favorite.

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Cunigan was slated to appear in court Wednesday. If convicted of the manslaughter charge, she faces up to 10 years in prison.