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Angie and Kylen

Angela Shangreaux and her now-deceased nephew Kylen in late 2015, during the time she was the child's guardian.

A woman pleaded guilty Friday to fatally beating her son over a potty-training issue, then reportedly made a vulgar gesture as she left the courtroom.

Katrina Pauline Shangreaux, of Porcupine, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the death of 2-year-old Kylen Shangreaux. The crime, committed at their home in July 2016, is punishable by up to life in prison.

Shangreaux, 30, said in a written statement that she assaulted the child after he had wet his bed and she believed he was behaving defiantly.

She admitted hitting the toddler multiple times, including with a belt, throwing him to the ground and kicking him in the abdomen and head, biting him several times and injuring his privates.

Friday morning, Shangreaux cried as she pleaded “guilty” before Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann at the Rapid City federal courthouse.

Among the people watching the proceedings was Kylen’s paternal aunt, Angie Shangreaux, who had fought Katrina Shangreaux for custody of the boy. Kylen lived with Angie for over a year until the Oglala Sioux tribal court ordered that the child be returned to his birth mother.

Shangreaux “despised” Angie, a name Kylen uttered when his mother started beating him and which further fueled her anger at the boy, according to court records.

While Shangreaux was being led out of the courtroom after pleading guilty, she was seen making a vulgar hand gesture in the direction of Angie and her companions.

“I was sick to my stomach. I felt like there was no remorse for her,” Angie, 38, told the Journal. That was the first time the women had seen each other since Shangreaux picked up Kylen from Angie's home in June 2016.

Shangreaux’s lawyer, Erin Bolinger, said she heard of the courtroom incident but didn’t see it. “We wouldn’t comment on such speculation at this point,” she said.

The U.S. Marshals Service, whose deputies escort federal defendants to and from court, said it received a report about Shangreaux’s behavior Friday from the prosecuting attorneys. 

Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Lisa Whiteface said the incident was concerning, and that at Shangreaux’s next court appearance — likely her sentencing hearing — the Marshals will recommend she be kept in handcuffs for the safety of everyone around her. 

Defendants are usually uncuffed when they appear before a judge, as in Shangreaux’s case on Friday, Whiteface said.

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Shangreaux was originally charged with first-degree murder, felony child abuse (aggravated battery of an infant) and felony child abuse and neglect. These charges would be dismissed as part of her plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Shangreaux’s mother, Sonya Dubray, is a co-defendant in Kylen’s death. Authorities said Shangreaux and Dubray cleaned up the toddler and the crime scene before they called for assistance.

Dubray, 49, is facing multiple federal charges, including tampering with evidence and being an accessory to first-degree murder. Her prosecution is ongoing.

Shangreaux is detained at the Pennington County Jail while awaiting sentencing.

Kylen’s murder case has attracted national attention, and Angie wants people to know the boy’s life didn’t just have a tragic end. She wants people to know the nephew she considered a son had been thoroughly loved.

On social media, Angie has shared a picture slideshow of Kylen smiling and laughing, accompanied by the song, “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”

Contact Tiffany Tan at tiffany.tan@rapidcityjournal.com.

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Rapid City Journal