An Acadia Parish grand jury charged a 26-year-old mother in the deaths of her four children who died in an April 21 mobile home fire in Rayne.
The grand jury charged Shaqueta McDade on Tuesday with four counts of second-degree murder, said Frederick Welter, an assistant district attorney with the 15th Judicial District.
McDade is accused of leaving her four young children unattended while she went out on the night of the fire.
The children have been identified as Brian Stiener Jr., 2, Lashay McDade, 5, Amous Mouton Jr., 7, and Jamari McDade, 8.
McDade initially was arrested on counts of negligent homicide, but the charges were increased after prosecutors decided the mother had shown gross negligence when she left her children unattended, Rayne Police Chief Carroll Stelly has said.
Welter stressed how important it is that parents not leave their young children alone.
“They’re not prepared to take the necessary steps to get out of a fire when they are that age,” Welter said.
The Acadia Parish Coroner’s Office ruled that all four children died from smoke inhalation, Welter said.
McDade will be arraigned in the near future, Welter said.
McDade’s attorney, Glen Howie, of Crowley, declined to discuss the case Wednesday.
“I try not to publicly comment on my cases,” Howie said.
Welter said he put the case on Tuesday’s grand jury docket because “the investigation was far enough along to do that.”