Child death under review

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Monday his office is “reassessing” its case against Shelna Matamoros in the 2006 asphyxiation death of her 2-year-old stepdaughter now that Cedric Matamoros Sr. — her husband and the child’s father — has died.

A grand jury charged both Cedric and Shelna Matamoros with first-degree murder in May 2011 in the death of Malyasia Chante’ Matamoros. Moore’s office said last February it would seek the death penalty against Cedric Matamoros, who was being held without bond.

Cedric Matamoros, a long-term dialysis patient, died in early December. He was 33.

“It is our belief that Cedric was more culpable in the child’s death than Shelna,” Moore said. “We are reassessing our case against Shelna and the extent of her culpability in the child’s death.”

Shelna Jackson Matamoros, 37, has remained behind bars since her indictment. Her next scheduled appearance in Baton Rouge state court is Feb. 27.

Prosecutors said the charges against Cedric Matamoros will be dismissed Tuesday, which was to be his next scheduled court appearance.

Moore has said previously that Malyasia Matamoros was “killed for money.’’ The toddler was covered by five insurance policies totaling $185,000 at the time of her death, and Cedric and Shelna Matamoros were the beneficiaries, he noted.

The child was pronounced dead Aug. 31, 2006. Two of the insurance policies totaling $110,000 were set to lapse Sept. 1, 2006, Moore has said.

After Cedric and Shelna Matamoros were indicted, the child’s mother, Shantel Fountain, said she always thought her daughter’s death had something to do with a lawsuit she filed against Cedric Matamoros for custody and child support. The former couple was due in court five days after their daughter’s death.

Cedric Matamoros claimed someone broke into his unit at the Brandywine Condominiums on Darryl Drive the night of Aug. 30, 2006, when his daughter was attacked in her bedroom. He said he fired a 9 mm handgun at the intruder. Shelna Matamoros was at the apartment that night.

In an interview Aug. 31, 2006, Cedric Matamoros said if anyone thought he killed his child, they were wrong.

“I don’t have those kind of guts. I love my child,” he said. “I did what any father would do; I protected my family.”

Matamoros said he did not get a good look at the intruder. He said he could not tell if the person was a man or woman.

Police were called about 4 a.m. Aug. 30, 2006, to the Matamoros’ apartment in reference to gunshots being fired, police have said.

Several gunshots had been fired inside the apartment, but no one was hit, police stated.

Cedric Matamoros pleaded no contest in September 2010 to simple arson, insurance fraud and workers’ compensation fraud. He was released from prison the day before he was arrested in his daughter’s slaying.

Shelna Matamoros pleaded guilty in March 2010 to simple arson, insurance fraud and other charges in the same string of arsons and frauds. She was released from prison a year later.