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Cottage Grove woman charged with manslaughter in newborn's death dies after setting herself on fire

A Cottage Grove woman despondent after she was charged with manslaughter in the death of her newborn son has died after she set herself on fire, according to police.

Toni A. Medrano, 29, died of injuries she sustained after using a flammable liquid to set herself on fire last week outside a St. Paul Park home, St. Paul Park Police Chief Mike Monahan said Monday. His department and the Ramsey County medical examiner are investigating her death.

Emergency crews were called to a home in the 1300 block of Chicago Avenue about 4 a.m. Monday, July 2, after someone at the home reported that a woman was burned after attempting suicide by starting herself on fire in the backyard. The home belongs to Medrano's mother.

The report says Medrano was burned, and that family members put her in the shower by the time authorities arrived to find her with serious, life-threatening burns. She was transported by Cottage Grove ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul but later died from the injuries, Monahan said. The date of her death was not immediately available; Monahan said his department was notified of her death Sunday morning.

Medrano was charged last month with two counts of second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of her 3-week-old infant son on Nov. 22, 2011. Washington County prosecutors alleged that Medrano drank a bottle of vodka in the evening and then fell asleep on a couch with the baby. She awoke hours later and found the baby unresponsive. A medical examiner concluded that the baby died of suffocation.

Medrano's first court appearance had been scheduled for Aug. 3 in Washington County District Court. Her case gained national attention last month when it was featured on Nancy Grace's crime-focused cable TV talk show.

Medrano, who was married, leaves behind other young children.

"I feel really bad for the family," Monahan said.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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