Mom charged in tot's death will ask court to reduce bail

Date: 2002-08-17
Source: Boston Hearld

Author: MARIE SZANISZLO

A Braintree woman charged with killing her 2-year-old adopted son is due back in court Monday to ask that her bail be reduced.

Natalia Higier's attorney will ask a Norfolk Superior Court justice to reduce the $100,000 cash bail she posted Thursday after she was charged with manslaughter in the killing of her son, Zachary.

A Latvian native, Higier, 47, is accused of banging her son's head with a force equivalent to dropping him off a multistory building, prosecutors said at her arraignment. Authorities said when she was taken into custody, she expressed more concern about her dog than her son.

The state Medical Examiner's Office officially ruled the death a homicide yesterday after an autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was "blunt-force trauma," said David Traub, a spokesman for the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office.

The fatal injury came to light around 1 p.m. Tuesday, when Higier took the toddler to a Quincy pediatrician, claiming she had found him lying motionless on the kitchen floor two hours earlier, prosecutors said.

The boy, who was born in Russia, was still clinging to life when his mother was arrested Wednesday night for assault and battery, a charge that was upgraded the following day to manslaughter after he was pronounced dead at Children's Hospital.

In a written statement released yesterday by his attorney, Higier's husband, said he was "absolutely devastated" by Zachary's death and the "shocking" charges against his wife. "I hope that the charges are not true," said Louis Higier, 42.

In its own written statement yesterday, the Frank Adoption Center of North Carolina said the couple underwent "extensive background checks and a thorough home study" by Dr. Laura Neymeyer of Adoption Resource Associates in Cambridge before the INS allowed them to travel to Russia to adopt Zachary last Christmas Eve. Neymeyer could not be reached yesterday for comment.

It was unclear whether the agency was aware that the couple had taken out restraining orders against each other in 1995.

On May 3 of that year, Higier filed a statement alleging her husband repeatedly slapped and punched her and called her "fat" and "poor."

When police questioned him about Zachary's injuries, Higier's husband initially laughed, then said, "I probably shouldn't say anything. I probably should get a lawyer," according to prosecutors.

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