Man Charged In Drunk Driving Death Of Infant Son Released On Bond


Nico Flute

      A Pine Ridge Reservation man charged in the death of his one-month old son after an August drunk driving accident on the reservation has been granted bond despite objections by prosecutors.

       Sheldon Flute faces federal charges of child abuse and involuntary manslaughter of a newborn in the death of Nico Flute of injuries suffered in the August 20th crash near Loneman. The infant’s mother, Erica Weston, is also charged in the case.

       Prosecutors urged Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollman to keep Flute in custody because he’s a flight risk and poses a threat to the community. 

      The defense argued for Flute to be released to the custody of his mother, saying he’s not a flight risk and doesn’t pose a danger to the community so long as he doesn’t have alcohol in his system

        Judge Wollman called the facts of the case “disheartening,” but ultimately granted Flute a personal recognizance bond with the restrictions of not consuming alcohol and having no contact with Weston or anyone else related to the case. 

      An FBI agent testified at the bond hearing and provided a detailed account of the accident. He said Flute was driving with his son in the car when his vehicle rolled. He then called Weston to come and get them, and the 3 rode back to her nearby home 

       The FBI agent said a friend of Weston’s called police to say the boy was struggling to breathe. He also told the couple to stay at the accident, but they instead decided to go to Red Shirt and take their son with them. 

     When officers arrived at the scene, they saw the baby’s car seat was not properly fastened. When they reached the house in Red Shirt, they said they could smell alcohol on Flute and that he admitted drinking a six-pack of beer before driving.

       The FBI agent said when Flute was asked about his son, he said the newborn was gasping for air off-and-on and stopped breathing at one point – adding that he was going to take the boy to the Indian Health Service hospital in Pine Ridge.

      Instead, the officers took the infant to the hospital, where doctors had him life-flighted to a Sioux Falls hospital, where he died a week later of extensive brain injuries.

      The child abuse charges against Flute and Weston on focus on not getting their son propert medical care after the accident, ignoring multiple opportunities to call 911 for help.