Mother to face trial for alleged abuse

Date: 2002-10-29

Author: Poughkeepsie Journal
Michael Valkys

A Dutchess County woman accused of severely injuring her 18-month-old son last year has been found competent to stand trial after spending time in a psychiatric facility.

Jennie Malak, formerly of Hyde Park, had earlier been found incompetent to stand trial in the assault case involving her son.

But doctors at the Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center in Orange County recently found Malak was able to understand the charges against her and assist her attorney in her defense.

Malak, 51, appeared briefly Monday before Dutchess County Court Judge Gerald V. Hayes at the courthouse in downtown Poughkeepsie. Hayes set Nov. 25 as the date for attorneys to file motions in the case. Malak will likely reappear in court Dec. 23, when a trial date could be set.

Malak, the estranged wife of Poughkeepsie pediatrician Joseph Malak, is charged with second-degree assault, a felony, and other charges in the alleged attack on xxxx [name removed for reasons of privacy], also known as xxxx [name removed for reasons of privacy].

The boy suffered severe head injuries July 17, 2001. After being hospitalized, he was transferred to a Schenectady rehabilitation center.

Understanding impaired

Jennie Malak was admitted to a psychiatric center this year and underwent a court-ordered psychiatric examination. Doctors found she was unable at that time to fully understand the charges against her and could not assist her attorney, D. James O'Neil, in her defense.

O'Neil said Monday his client, who has pleaded not guilty, has been released on bail.

''They found her, what they call, fit to proceed,'' O'Neil said of the psychiatric center staff that examined Malak. ''She continues her plea of not guilty.''

Senior Assistant District Attorney Kristine Hawlk said Monday she was not sure of the child's condition, but that he is under the care of social services.

''I expect there will be a trial sometime early next year,'' Hawlk said.

Malak was charged after a physician at Albany Medical Center and a forensic pathologist who examined the boy concluded the baby's injuries were not consistent with a fall.

If she stands trial and is convicted of the top count of the indictment, Malak faces a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison.

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