WOMAN WAIVES JURY TRIAL IN DEATH OF ADOPTED SON

Relates to:
Date: 2003-09-17

Jessica Vitale-Elgie, 38, the Buffalo special-education teacher charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of her 5-year-old son, Tuesday waived her right to a jury trial and agreed to stand trial next week before State Supreme Court Justice Joseph S. Forma.

Vitale-Elgie told the judge she has discussed the trial issue with her attorneys, Michael S. Taheri and Peter J. Todoro Jr., and is willing to place her fate in the hands of the judge.

Because a number of physicians and medical experts are expected to testify for both sides, the judge adjourned the start of testimony to Monday morning.

Vitale-Elgie withdrew a guilty plea last year after another judge told her she had to send her to prison.

After State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang recused herself from the case last March, it was reassigned to Forma.

Forma approved the trial decision, ruling that it was "a knowing and intelligent decision" on the part of the defendant.

Casey Elgie, the Vietnamese adopted son of the defendant, died the day after he reportedly swallowed a glass of what authorities say was a toxic detergent solution while being disciplined on Aug. 31, 2000.

During pretrial proceedings earlier this year, prosecutors conceded that they have no proof Vitale-Elgie forced the boy to drink the solution. But they obtained an indictment because she allegedly did not seek immediate medical attention for him.

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