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Mother Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison for Son’s Death

December 24, 1993

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) _ A woman who kept her son’s body in her car trunk for five years was sentenced Thursday to 11 years in prison.

DeEtte Stewart and her boyfriend, William Bell, had pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in a plea bargain. They were originally charged with second-degree murder.

Police said Bell claimed the boy drowned in the bathtub of the couple’s apartment while he watched television. Bell said he heard a thump but didn’t check immediately, then found the boy dead later, police said.

A pathologist testified 3-year-old Brandon Stewart did not die from a fall and may have suffered two skull fractures before he died in May 1988.

Acting on a tip, authorities questioned Bell, 36, and Stewart, 31, last May. They took police to a remote part of the San Bernardino Mountains where they claimed Brandon was buried.

Bell later admitted the body was never removed from the car trunk, police said.

Bell was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison.