Brookings man pleads guilty in 2019 death of toddler

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A Brookings man has pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for his role in the 2019 starvation death of a toddler.

Robert Price, Jr. entered the plea after reaching an agreement with prosecutors. Price and the child’s aunt, Renae Fayant, were indicted by a grand jury in July 2019 on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and abuse or cruelty to a minor under age 7.

The state agreed to dismissal of the remaining charges against Price and is recommending 40 years in the South Dakota State Penitentiary.

Fayant was earlier sentenced to 75 years in prison for her role in the case.

Fayant admitted being the primary caregiver for the girl and did not dispute that the child had died because of malnourishment and dehydration, according to court documents.

Brookings County State’s Attorney Dan Nelson issued the following statement:

“After today’s guilty plea, we’re finally able to bring closure to this case. Law enforcement and our office worked hard throughout the process to ensure justice was delivered on behalf of the victim and her family.”

Nelson says it was clear that Fayant was primarily responsible for the victim. But, he said Price had knowledge of what was happening and refused to act. Nelson says the 40-year sentence recommendation is appropriate.