exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Hearing postponed for foster mother charged in child's death


Dolly A. Butz

DAKOTA CITY, Neb. -- A Dakota County judge granted Tisha Vega's request today to postpone her preliminary hearing.

The preliminary hearing for the former South Sioux City woman, who is charged with manslaughter in the 2006 death of her foster child, 20-month-old Nathaniel Saunsoci-Mitchell, will now take place June 17.

Vega, dressed in a white shirt and black pants, entered and exited the courtroom with her attorney.

When asked by County Court Judge Kurt Rager if she wished to waive her right to a speedy preliminary hearing, Vega responded simply, "Yes."

Chief Deputy County Attorney Debra Fergen raised no objections to Vega's request to postpone the hearing and called the case "very complicated."

Several of Nathaniel's relatives were present in the courtroom. Olivia Saunsoci, Nathaniel's maternal grandmother, said by phone that she and her daughter, Jackie, Nathaniel's mother, did not attend the hearing because seeing Vega would have been painful.

"It's just too hurtful to see that woman," she said. "Even though it's been over two years, it's still too soon for us."

Today's proceeding marked the first time Vega, 34, has appeared in Dakota County Court since her extradition from Montgomery County, Pa. She was arrested in Oaks, Pa., in March on a manslaughter warrant for Nathaniel's death after the Journal shared her address with Dakota County authorities. She voluntarily waived extradition to Nebraska.

Nathaniel suffered a broken leg and clavicle and a dog bite on his face while in Vega's home and died of a nonaccidental head injury.

The Omaha Tribe placed Nathaniel, whose parents are tribal members, in Vega's home. He was one of 10 children in the household, five of whom were foster children.

Vega is currently free on $750,000 bond.

2009 May 6