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Wednesday, March 23, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Woman pleads guilty in death of stepdaughter

Times Snohomish County bureau

EVERETT — A Lake Stevens woman pleaded guilty today to first-degree manslaughter in the death of her 4-year-old stepdaughter.

Heather Ewell, 25, had initially told authorities that Sirita Sotelo died soon after drinking glue-gun cleaner. But an autopsy indicated the child had a skull fracture, severed liver and other injuries consistent with serious trauma, according to charging papers.

Snohomish County sheriff's investigators were called to Ewell's house, in the 2500 block of 101st Avenue Northeast, on Jan. 21, for a report of a child who wasn't breathing. Ewell and her sister told deputies Sirita not only drank glue-gun cleaner, prompting them to call the state Poison Control Hotline for advice, but she also fell and hit her head in the shower, charging documents said.

The women said the child went to bed and the last time they saw her alive was at about 8:25 p.m., according to court documents. But county Medical Examiner Norman Thiersch estimates the child died about 12 hours before Ewell's sister dialed 911. Tests showed there were no glue-gun solvents in her blood.

Ewell will be sentenced on May 12.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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