Vanyel Anderson-Colbeth
September 24, 2007 - January 9, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial

On the day she was born, Vanyel Anderson-Colbeth had already made one fatal mistake, she had been born a girl. A nurse said that Shanara Anderson seemed angry right after the birth of her daughter:

"When I first came into the room, (Anderson) was postpartum. The family was holding
and touching and passing the baby
around and Shanara was angry, would not look at,
would not
hold, would not do anything with the baby. And I asked her, ? Well, how
was your day?' Most new mothers want to talk to
you about their birth experience
 and tell you how it was. She
was just mad and she said, ?I'm pissed off.' And
I asked her 
why and she said, ?It's a girl, and I really wanted a boy and 
so does my significant other" 

That night, Shanara left her daughter in the nursery at the hospital and left. She claimed to have a dentist appointment the next day.

Later in her short life, Vanyel and her mother would move to town called Bozeman, with a man Shanara had not seen in a long time. Jeff Rattey said he had not seen her in a long time and even so, he proposed to her over the phone and then on January 8, 2008, drove from Bozeman to Glendive to pick up Shanara, her two year old daughter Elora and her baby daughter Vanyel.

They arrived at his house the next night. Rattey said that the baby started crying and that when Shanara went to check on her, she came back to bed and said that she had thrown a jacket over the bassinet. When he left for work at about 7:00 a.m. the next day, he saw that the jacket was still there and he could hear the baby breathing.

Three hours later, Shanara called 911 and told them that her daughter was not breathing. Medical personnel took the baby to Deaconess Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Shanara had told police that at she went to check on the baby at about 6:30 a.m. because she was crying. She claimed she didn't see the jacket on the bassinet at that time and suggested that her other daughter could have put it there.

Dr. Walter Kemp, the Deputy State Medical Examiner, did an autopsy. His conclusion was that Vanyel died of an undetermined cause and manner. Walter Kemp found that Vanyel had rib fractures and cerebral edema, excessive fluid in the substance of the brain. Detective Any Knight contacted Shanara who said that she did not kill Vanyel and said that maybe her daughter, Elora, had been the one responsible. Shanara told Andy Knight that she had been having some trouble sleeping and that she suffers from depression. She said she may have
forgotten to take her medication and might had suffered from temporary insanity"

"I just felt like I had no control over anything in my life"

While she was being interviewed, Shanara told him that she was going to plead guilty, then awhile later she requested an attorney, which ended the interview.

Shanara was charged with the deliberate homicide of Vanyel. She plead not guilty in court, before Judge Holly Brown and was held at the Gallatin County Detention Center on $500,000. bond. Chief Deputy County Attorney Todd Whipple said he was not going to seek the death penalty against Shanara.

In February of 2009, Shanara Anderson, who was 22 at the time, was in court with her attorney, Peter Ohman, to enter a plea of not guilty. Shanara didn't say anything at all during her court appearance.


County wants infant homicide charges dropped
May 24, 2011

Gallatin County prosecutors and the attorneys for a Glendive woman accused of killing her 3-month-old daughter have asked a District Court judge to dismiss the long-lingering deliberate homicide case.

Attorneys on each side of the case recently filed motions asking Judge Mike Salvagni to dismiss charges against Shanara Anderson, 25, who was accused in February 2009 with killing her infant daughter, Vanyel, more than a year earlier.

Anderson's defense attorneys, Chris Abbott and Edmund Sheehy Jr., filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying it has been floundering in the judicial system for more than three years, a violation of their client's right to a speedy trial.

Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert also filed a motion to dismiss the case last Friday, though on different grounds.

This is the second time Lambert has asked Salvagni to drop the charges.

In the first instance - after the judge had precluded the use of Anderson's statement to investigators and most of the physical evidence - Lambert argued he essentially had no evidence left to try the case.

But Salvagni denied that motion, and Lambert, in turn, appealed the judge's ruling.

The medical examiner's autopsy on the infant found bruising on the baby's brain, suggesting "a delayed death following a lethal event," according to court documents. The examiner also discovered several rib fractures "indicative of non-accidental trauma, most likely due to compression of the chest or ... direct blows to the trunk."

Salvagni had ruled none of that evidence could be presented at trial, save for a single rib fracture sustained shortly before the baby's death.

The Montana Supreme Court, in a landmark decision in December, unanimously overturned Salvagni's ruling, saying the district court judge was not wrong but that the legal precedent he relied upon was. They ordered the medical examiner's evidence should be permitted.

Despite that decision, Lambert contends he still does not have sufficient evidence to try Anderson in Gallatin County.

"Although the Supreme Court permitted the state to introduce evidence of the repeated injuries to Vanyel, the state is still without the evidence of the defendant's statement to law enforcement," Lambert wrote in his motion.

Additionally, Lambert contends he can't prove the abuse happened in Bozeman. Two forensic experts concluded they could not "conclusively opine that Vanyel suffered abuse in Gallatin County," he wrote.

Indeed, in their argument to dismiss the case, Abbott and Sheehy argued Anderson had only arrived in Bozeman a day before Vanyel's death and returned to Glendive shortly thereafter.

They contend Anderson suffered unduly from the long period she has waited to learn her fate.

She was held nearly six months in a jail more than 350 miles from her home and had "virtually no ties to the Bozeman area," they wrote.

Once Anderson was allowed to return to Glendive with a GPS monitor, she was "subjected to public scorn," endured "taunts of baby-killer" and had difficulty finding employment beyond minimum-wage jobs.

In response to Lambert's motion, Anderson's attorneys filed another motion with Salvagni to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning no future charges could be brought against her regarding the baby's death.

Though Lambert had not specifically asked the judge to dismiss the case without prejudice, he did leave the door open for future charges to be filed when he wrote, "The matter of whether the defendant should be charged with any crime committed in Dawson County" or elsewhere in the state was referred to the state attorney general's office.

Salvagni has not yet made a ruling.

Judge Response To Shanara Anderson Motion Dismiss
May 25, 2011

Judge Mike Salvagni grants the states motion to dismiss the charges against Shanar Andeersn and orders the State to file a reply about Anderson's requst that the case be dismissed without prejudice.

Court closes, reopens case of Glendive woman accused of killing infant in Gallatin County A deliberate homicide case involving a Glendive woman who is accused of killing her 3-month-old daughter was dismissed then reopened the next day in Gallatin County.

On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Mike Salvagni granted a request from county prosecutors to dismiss the deliberate homicide charge against Shanara Anderson. Prosecutors claimed they did not have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Anderson committed the crime of deliberate homicide in Gallatin County, according to court documents.

It was reopened again less than 24 hours later after the court received paperwork from Anderson.

Anderson is accused of killing her 3-month-old daughter, Vanyel Anderson-Colbeth, in January 2008. She called 911 that day to say her baby was not breathing. An autopsy could not pinpoint the baby girl's cause of death.

In April 2010, Salvagni ruled that statements made by Anderson the day after her 3-month-old daughter died could not be used against her during her trial. Salvagni ruled that Detective Andy Knight ended the Miranda warning by saying "It's the TV talk," which Salvagni says was giving lip service to the warning.

After the judge tossed out Anderson's statements, the state filed a motion to dismiss the case in April 2010, claiming it could not meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, according to court documents. The motion was denied.

But this time, in its second motion to dismiss, the court understood the crux of the state's motion to be that prosecutors do not have sufficient evidence to prove that a crime was committed in Gallatin County, court papers state.

Salvagni granted the motion to dismiss and the case was closed on Tuesday, May 24. Anderson's trial, which was set to begin on Aug. 15, was vacated.

But the next day, Wednesday, May 25, it was reopened.

That's because on Wednesday, May 25, the court received a response from Anderson to the state's motion to dismiss the case. Court papers say that the judge did not consider Anderson's response when preparing the May 24 order to dismiss the case.

In the response, Anderson asks that her case be dismissed with prejudice, and "it appears the state contests such a dismissal," court documents state.

he court concludes, upon reopening the case, that the state should be able to file a brief addressing Anderson's position that the case should be dismissed with prejudice.


Today is June 9, 2014 and the only update I am able to find says that in January of 2011, Shanara was not going to trial yet. It seems that appeals and writs have been filed and games are being played all while a little girl suffered and died and no one is being held accountable for what was done to her.

UPDATE: July 1, 2016 - Thank you Jess for this update.

From the Montana Department Of Corrections - Correctional Offenders Network Search:

DOCKET: DC 11-061
LEGAL TYPE: Original Sentence
OFFENSE: Criminal Endangerment
CODE: 455207 
OFFENSE DATE: 9/24/2007

Thank you to the anonymous person who sent me another update for this case. I am adding it on the same day as the one above.

Offender Name Crime Parole Eligibility Date Hearing Type
3008411 ANDERSON, Shanara Rose Criminal Endangerment 4/21/2013 A

Parole to highest level of supervision. Reg CDC; MH - medication management as deemed by PO; comply with court ordered conditions; restricted from casinos; shall not enter any place where intoxicants are the chief item of sale; restricted from participating in any medical marijuana program.

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